Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Writing Life with Children's Author Michelle Nott

Before becoming an author, Michelle Nott enjoyed being a French teacher (pre-K to university levels) in the U.S., working for a French company in Paris and an art gallery in NYC. She has also edited and written articles for numerous on-line and print magazines in the American and European markets.

In 2004, Michelle moved to Belgium. When she noticed that her daughters' book collection included more French titles than English ones, she decided to put her creative writing degree to use. Many of these early stories can be found on her blog Good Night, Sleep Tight where she also reflects on raising Third Culture Kids.

In 2015, Michelle and her family returned to the U.S. But with American and French citizenship, they travel to Europe regularly. Their favorite places include the French Alps, the Belgian countryside, and the Cornish coast in the UK. Her family's life and adventures prove great inspirations for her stories.

Freddy, Hoppie and the Eyeglasses is Michelle's first book for children. Her future children's books are represented by Essie White at Storm Literary Agency. She is a member of SCBWI, Children's Book Insider and Houston Writer's Guild.

Connect with Michelle on the web: 
@MimiLRN

What’s inside the mind of a picture book/early reader author?
Children! Their daily lives. New experiences. Scary experiences. Loving experiences.

What is so great about being an author?
One of the best parts of being an author is having an excuse to write every day, to dream every day, to invent people and places and other worlds. As an author, I also love interacting with my readers and the adults in their lives. I really enjoy book signings. And as I used to be a teacher, I am thrilled get back in the classroom for what I loved most about teaching – the interaction and excitement that comes from working with students.

When do you hate it?
Hate being an author?? This question perplexes me.

What is a regular writing day like for you?
A regular day is irregular. I try to get up at 5:30 and write before breakfast, go for a bike ride or a swim, come back and write for at least four more hours, take a break when my daughters come home from school, and then write more or read in the evening. When my day pans out like this, I feel like a superhero. But, there are days when life puts a wrench in the plan or I may have interviews, school visits, or social media or other networking opportunities planned.

Do you think authors have big egos? Do you?
I think some people have big egos and some don't. I don't think authors would have any bigger ego than anyone else. As far as the writers I know, I think we all understand that writing is a tough business and whether or not someone is published yet does not make them the better person. Everyone's writing journey is different.

So no, I don 't think I have a big ego either. There is so much more I can learn and do to improve my craft.

How do you handle negative reviews?
Publishing is a very subjective business. And readers each have their preferences when it comes to literature. As there are lots of published books out on the shelves that I do not particularly appreciate, I keep that in mind if someone happens to not like my book. It's just part of life. You can't please everyone all of the time.

How do you handle positive reviews?
It always makes me smile when I read positive remarks about my books. I'm always very flattered when people take the time to say something nice about my work.

What is the usual response when you tell a new acquaintance that you’re an author?
Most people find it intriguing and mention how they plan on writing a book once they retire or ask what kind of books I write. When I say I write for children, the reactions are mixed. Most people find it very admirable, while others may say it's “adorable” and not think any more about it.

What do you do on those days you don’t feel like writing? Do you force it or take a break?
I do really try to sit and write no matter how I feel. But if nothing is coming, then I go outside. Usually a swim, a bike ride or a walk does the trick and then I rush home to write down all my ideas.

Any writing quirks?
I try to put myself in the atmosphere of the world in which I'm writing. For example, when working on a MG fantasy that takes place under water, I put out seashells and a sea-salt scented candle on my desk while listening to beach sounds. While working on a MG magical realism story that takes place in Brussels in the 1930s, I surrounded myself with images of particular places in Brussels and listened to French music of the era.

What would you do if people around you didn’t take your writing seriously or see it as a hobby?
Probably at first, on the inside, I'd be fuming. But then I'd calm down and remind myself that they just don't understand. They may never have been so overtaken by a sunset, or the scent of an unexpected plant in the forest, or the feel of a child's cheek on his to want to write it down so to never forget it, and to incorporate it into a story for other people to experience as well.

People who see writing as a hobby may not realize how touched their lives have been by a good book, or a beautiful phrase.

They may not realize that writing is the same as any profession. A certain amount of inner talent does play a role, but so does a lot of perseverance, discipline and hard work.

Some authors seem to have a love-hate relationship to writing. Can you relate?
I love it. Always.

Do you think success as an author must be linked to money?
Absolutely not. Sure, it would be nice if all writers could actually make a decent living from their words. But I knew from the start what a high expectation that is.

For me, success is when families, librarians, and teachers are enjoying my books and using them to send a positive message to children.

What had writing taught you?
Writing has taught me that many, if not all, of my life experiences have served some purpose. Even though many years went by before jumping into children's writing, all those years were valuable and rich with emotions and adventures that I can use in my current stories.


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Title: FREDDY, HOPPIE AND THE EYEGLASSES
Genre: Early Reader
Author: Michelle Nott
Website: www.authormichellenott.com
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing

About the Book:

Freddy and his imaginary frog Hoppie jump into each day. But numbers smudge, words blur, and classmates snicker. By the end of the week, there is no more spring in their step. Freddy knows he should tell his mom about the trouble they are having, but how?
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Monday, May 9, 2016

Discount of the day: Daughter of the Sun (Cult of the Cat series, Book 1) only $.99!



Title: Daughter of the Sun (Cult of the Cat series, Book 1)
Author: Zoe Kalo
Genre: YA mythological fantasy/paranormal
Word count: 93,000 words / 330 pages
Official Launch: May 1, 2016

Only $.99 until Wednesday May 11th(regular price $4.99)

Get your copy on Kindle today!

Daughter of the Sun, Book 1 - blurb

Sixteen-year-old Trinity was born during a solar eclipse and left at the doorsteps of a convent along with a torn piece of papyrus covered with ancient symbols. Raised by nuns in the English countryside, she leads a quiet life until she’s whisked away to the Island of Cats and a grandmother she never knew.

But before they can get to know each other, her grandmother dies. All that Trinity has left is a mysterious eye-shaped ring. And a thousand grieving cats. As Trinity tries to solve the enigma of the torn papyrus, she discovers a world of bloody sacrifices and evil curses, and a prophecy that points to her and her new feline abilities.

Unwilling to believe that any of the Egyptian gods could still be alive, Trinity turns to eighteen-year-old Seth and is instantly pulled into a vortex of sensations that forces her to confront her true self—and a horrifying destiny.

What readers are saying….

“This was an amazing story!” –Hot Off the Shelves

“This book was so super good! Great writing, great characters, great plot. Very immersive reading experience.” –Awesome Book Assessment

“Wow- this book was a stunning, magnificent adventure! Very well written and full of intricate details, I was immediately drawn in and just absolutely did not want to put this one down... The intrigue just leaves you racing through the pages to find out what will happen next! I absolutely, completely enjoyed this book and can't wait to see what happens in the next one!” –The Recipe Fairy

“The way [Zoe Kalo] writes cats into the book is astounding. Every little quirk, mew and lick is incredibly authentic. I love it when a writer is skilled at writing about the animals in the character’s story, it makes it more warm and fuzzy, no pun intended.” –Samantha Writes

“Daughter of the Sun is an intriguing young adult mythology read full of mystery, magic, action, and history… [it] kept me flipping pages like an addict.” –Fishing for Books

“Oh my God. This is definitely a ‘something.’ This concept and the plot is soooo unique and weird and fascinating that I did not want to put this down. I literally breezed through this one…. This book was an overdose of kitty love.” –Grape Fruit Books

“If you are looking for a Young Adult Fantasy book that is different from the norm, then look no further. Daughter of the Sun is full of Egyptian mythology, with layer upon layer of mystery just waiting to be uncovered.” –Archaeolibrarian

About the Author
A certified bookworm, Zoe Kalo has always been obsessed with books and reading. Reading led to writing—compulsively. No surprise that at 16, she wrote her first novel, which her classmates read and passed around secretly. The pleasure of writing and sharing her fantasy worlds has stayed with her, so now she wants to pass her stories to you with no secrecy—but with lots of mystery…
A daughter of adventurous expats, she’s had the good fortune of living on 3 continents, learning 4 languages, and experiencing a multicultural life. Currently, she’s working on a Master’s degree in Comparative Literature, which she balances between writing, taking care of her clowder of cats, and searching for the perfect bottle of pinot noir.
Connect with Zoe Kalo on the web: www.ZoeKalo.com /Facebook / Twitter

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Friday, April 8, 2016

Interview with Sherri Elizabeth Tidwell, author of 'The Daffodils Still Grow: A Book for Grieving Daughters'


The Daffodils Still Grow was inspired by diary entries of the author/illustrator, Sherri Elizabeth Tidwell, after the death of her mother when she was 14. “My mother committed suicide when I was 14, and after nearly a year of crying and hurting, I was surprised -- almost shocked -- to see the daffodils she planted right before her death still bloom again. It was a big wake-up call to me that, even though she was gone, I could still carry on without her FOR her. Somehow, our loved ones still find a way of communicating with us when we need it the most." Sherri Elizabeth now attends Seton Hill University’s MFA program in Writing Popular Fiction. She has a BA in both communications and studio arts from Austin Peay State University. She hopes that every parent will know how irreplaceable and loved they are to their children and that every child who has lost a parent will know they are not alone. Remember, the daffodils still grow!

What was your experience in looking for a publisher?

After a frustrating experience with another publishing company, I called the CEO of Mascot Books, Naren Aryal, and spoke to him about The Daffodils Still Grow. I emailed him a link to a narration I did of the book on YouTube, which he watched while we were talking on the phone, and we decided to work together. Mascot Books is a hybrid between self-publishing and traditional publishing. I was very happy with the result. It allowed me to have control over the finished product but I also was able to seek out advice and support when I needed it. The quality of the book turned out beautiful, as well.

What type of book promotion works for you? Any special strategies you’d like to share?

I would approach it with a giving spirit. If you can find people who are in need of the story you’re telling, give them your story. They will pay you back in feedback and in doing their own marketing for your book, because they’ll be that excited and that pleased.

What advice would you offer aspiring writers?

Read If You Want to Write by Brenda Euland (1891-1985). She was so encouraging of writers and was such an inspiration that it just leaves you with less resistance to writing and helps you get more done.

What is the best advice on writing you've ever received?

I simply go by the old advice, “Write what you know.” I think that by doing so, the writing comes from an authentic place and has the ability to connect with others on a deeper, more personal level.

Is there anything else you’d like to say to our readers?
Who a person is, I think, should always be entangled into who they are as a writer – or as an artist, or a creator of any kind. Writing (creating) runs deeper than jobs that are done for dollars, and it has the power to bridge gaps, to touch people’s hearts and to heal. Being vulnerable and brave enough to put your heart out there as an artist and as a person is the one decision that will usually make what you are creating worthwhile and make it matter. It will be the one reason why it connects to those who see it or read it. So, be vulnerable. Be open. Be brave and be you.


 For More Information
About the Book:

Title: The Daffodils Still Grow: A Book for Grieving Daughters
Author: Sherri Elizabeth Tidwell
Publisher: Mascot Books
Pages: 38
Genre: Children’s Picture Book
The Daffodils Still Grow is a full-color illustrated book that portrays life after a loved one dies as seen from the observations of a motherless child. “Beautiful and inspiring.”

For More Information

  • The Daffodils Still Grow is available at Amazon.
  • Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
  • Watch a narrated video of the book at YouTube.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Sherri Elizabeth Tidwell is giving away a The Daffodils Still Grow T-shirt!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one The Daffodils Still Grow t-shirt
  • This giveaway begins February 1 and ends April 29.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on April 30.
  • Winners have 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!





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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Chapter reveal: Trish's Team by Dawn Brotherton


Title:  TRISH’S TEAM
Genre:  Tween Fiction (Middle Grade Fiction)        
Author:  Dawn Brotherton
Publisher:  Blue Dragon Publishing
Purchase on Amazon

The debut release in Dawn Brotherton’s Lady Tigers series, Trish’s Team is a terrific new young adult tale featuring Trish Murphy.  A member of the Blue Birds, a recreational fastpitch softball team for 11 and 12 year old girls, Trish Murphy longs to be a member of the Lady Tigers, the elite travel team comprised of the best of the best players in the area.  When she is presented with the opportunity to try out for the team, Trish jumps at the chance. There’s just one small problem—it seems Trish’s parents don’t understand her love of the game.  Chances are they’ll be even less understanding and when they find out that team practice conflicts with Trish’s orchestra practice…


But being part of the Lady Tigers—and nurturing newfound friendships with the other team members—is Trish’s top priority.  When she tries to pull a fast one to get what she wants without considering the consequences, Trish puts everything in jeopardy. Trish’s decision could ultimately affect more than just the game: it could affect her friends.  Along the way, Trish discovers that being a part of the Lady Tigers is about much more than playing fastpitch softball:  it’s about being a part of a team.  But Trish may have to learn a painful lesson. After all, it really isn’t if you win or lose, but it’s how you play the game.  

Chapter 1

Trish Murphy stood in center field and brushed her brown bangs off her forehead with the back of her right hand. Frowning in concentration, she waited for the next pitch. In front of her, Ashley stepped onto the pitcher’s mound, hesitated only briefly, and then spun her right arm in a clockwise motion to deliver a good-looking pitch. Smack. The ball sailed toward center field. Racing forward, Trish got under it, just like the coach had shown her. Plop. It landed snugly in her glove for an easy out.
“Nice catch, Trish!” Coach Tim called from the dugout. She smiled and threw the ball to the infield. It was a beautiful throw, yet it bounced out of the second baseman’s glove and rolled to the pitcher.
Rolling her eyes in frustration, Trish hurried back to her spot in the outfield.
Two outs, one to go.
Trish watched as, on the mound, Ashley took the signal from the catcher. Nodding, Ashley positioned the ball inside her glove, stood tall on her wind up, and fired the ball to the exact low-inside location the catcher had indicated.
“Strike one,” the umpire called.
Shifting her stance to the right slightly so she could look around the pitcher’s back, Trish waited to see where the next pitch would cross the plate. She was betting it would be low and outside this time.
“Strike two!” she heard across the plush grass that lay before her.
Yep, low and outside, she thought, grinning. Ashley was a pretty good pitcher, and with Alisha catching for her, they were a great team.
Trish knew the next pitch would be a change-up, high and inside. She smiled as the batter was caught off guard, swinging before the ball had even reached the plate. “Strike three! Batter’s out!” the ump called.
“Yes!” the team cheered as they raced for the dugout.
Coach Tim met them as they ran off the field, holding his hand out for high-fives. “Come on, girls, gather around. Nice catch out there, Trish. Beautiful strike-outs, Ashley. We’re behind by one run. Let’s swing some sticks.”
The Blue Birds was a recreational fast-pitch softball team for 11- and 12-year-old girls that only played 10 games a summer. The coaches were volunteers and mostly dads of the girls on the team. Trish felt lucky that she was on Coach Tim’s team. Some of the dads didn’t even know how to play softball, let alone teach the girls to play. Coach Tim was different. He had played baseball in college, so at least he knew the game.
Trish glanced around the softball complex hoping her mom might be there. She didn’t really expect to see her, but she was disappointed anyway.
She heard a loud cheer come from the field behind where the Blue Birds were playing. She saw the orange and black uniforms of the Lady Tigers. Trish sighed. She would love to play for the Tigers. The coaches only picked the best-of-the-best players for the travel softball team. They played ball almost every weekend in long tournaments.
“Head in the game, Trish,” Coach Tim said, refocusing her attention on her own team.
“Come on, Becky, you can do it!” Trish yelled to the leadoff batter.
Trish turned to read the lineup hanging on the fence. It was the top of the line-up. Trish grabbed her helmet and bat. She was batting fourth.
Hearing the crack of the bat, she looked up in time to see Becky hit a short pop-up to the third baseman. The player tried to catch it, but the ball dropped in front of her, and Becky beat out the throw to first.
“Batter up!” The umpire seemed in a hurry to keep the game moving. Clara quickly stepped inside the chalk-outlined rectangle of the batter’s box. The pitch came quickly on the inside corner. “Strike one.”
Clara stepped out and took a few practice swings. She settled into the box again. It turned into a long wait as the pitcher threw four balls in a row. Clara jogged to first; Becky went to second.
Trish watched in anticipation as Samantha moved toward home plate for her turn at bat. Trish put on a helmet and stepped out of the dugout to take a few practice swings, getting her timing down for the pitches.
Samantha stepped into the box. She was tall so the outfielders backed up, anticipating that she would hit the ball far. Crack. The ball flew over the third baseman’s head, landing in the grass. The left fielder raced in and scooped up the ball, preventing the runners from scoring.
Bases loaded. No outs. Trish stepped into the box. She knew she didn’t look very impressive. At only four-foot-six, she hadn’t reached her full height by a long shot. Her legs were long, slender, and solid muscle. She was used to people underestimating her, but she liked it that way. It usually worked to her advantage.
Trish settled in as the pitcher began her wind up. The pitch came in. Way inside. Trish leaped out of the way. The next pitch was outside, and the catcher missed it. Becky raced past Trish to cross the plate as the fans cheered.
“Just a base hit, Trish,” her coach called.
“You can do it, Trish!” The fans were all cheering her on. She kept her concentration on the ball leaving the pitcher’s hand.
The pitch was coming in perfect, right down the middle, ideal height. It was slow, so Trish looked at it again. It had a weird spin. She didn’t swing. Right before the plate, it dropped. “Ball three.” Trish was thankful for the many hours of extra batting practice Coach Tim had spent with her. He had shown her how to truly watch the ball.
The next pitch was almost the same, but it didn’t appear to be spinning. Smack. It went over the second baseman, missing the right fielder’s glove and rolled all the way to the fence for a triple. Clara and Samantha scored as Trish rounded the bases.
The fans were cheering. The score now read, “Blue Birds: 9; Redhawks: 7.”
“Nice hit, Trish,” Coach Tim said, smiling broadly.
Trish’s grin lit up her face. She clapped her hands and cheered on the next batter from third base.
Alisha hit a nice single to left center field that allowed Trish to score. The girls lined up to high-five her as she came into the dugout.
Ashley hit a fly ball to right field that cost them an out, but moved Alisha to third. Amber grounded out on a hit to second base, leaving Alisha in place. Ton-Lou flew out to left field to end the inning. The girls were in high spirits because they were winning, and the other team only had one more chance to bat.
“Good inning, ladies; let’s hit the field. Hold them for three more outs,” the coach said.
The first Redhawk hit the ball to Lexi on second base who easily picked it up and threw her out at first. Trish was a little nervous when the other team’s number four batter stepped to the plate. She was tall for a 12-year-old and had already hit it to the fence once this game. She took a few steps back and angled toward left field.
Ashley delivered the pitch low and inside. The batter got under the ball, and it went high into foul territory on the left field side. Much to Trish’s surprise, Ashley put the next pitch in the same place. This time the batter swung and missed.
Trish smiled. She knew the coaches called the pitches from the dugout. She would have to ask Coach Tim why he called two in a row the same way. That wasn’t very common. She liked to learn as much as she could about the strategy of softball, not just the technique.
The third and final pitch stayed low but to the outside corner. The batter swung but didn’t even come close. Two outs.
The number five batter had hit the ball to center field twice already in previous innings so Trish was ready. The batter let the first pitch go by but got ahold of the second. It was a long fly ball to deep center field.
Trish immediately turned her body and began to run toward the fence. She ran full out, praying her left fielder would be there to back her up if she missed it. At the last possible second, Trish dove at where she predicted the ball would be, capturing it in her glove as she hit the ground. That ended the game; final score was 10-7, Blue Birds.
The girls cheered enthusiastically. Trish couldn’t stop smiling as the coach and other girls clapped her on the back as they lined up to shake hands with the Redhawks. Even some of the opposing team members congratulated her on such a great catch. It felt wonderful!
She looked around at the crowd waiting outside the fence, but there was no sign of her parents. Trish wished that they had been there to witness her final catch.
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Thursday, March 10, 2016

Chapter reveal: ON EDGE, by Gin Price


Title:  ON EDGE
Genre:  Mystery/YA Mystery
Author: Gin Price
Website:  www.thepoisonedpencil.com  
Publisher: Poisoned Pencil
Find out more on Amazon

About the Book:

When a serial-killing graffiti artist starts painting your picture all over town…it puts a girl on edge.


Emanuella "LL" Harvey puts her gymnastic skills to good use as a member of her brother's Parkour group. Freerunning, jumping, and climbing over their corner of the city like it's an obstacle course gives them something to take pride in and keeps them out of trouble—sort of. But trouble finds LL when she runs into Haze, a talented graffiti artist whose sister Heather was murdered two years before. Freerunner and Writer promptly fall in love, but they decide to hide their relationship till they're sure it's the real thing—and until they can find a way to placate LL's hotheaded brother, who has it in for Haze and his gang. But when portraits of LL—done in Haze's distinctive style—start popping up on city walls, all hell breaks loose. LL's brother threatens a gang war, which LL tries to avert by identifying the Writer who is really responsible for the paintings. But when another teen is murdered, it looks bad for Haze, especially when LL discovers that Heather's killer and her portrait-painter are one and the same.

ON EDGE 
Gin Price 
Chapter One 

            I wasn’t going to make it.
I had a stitch in my side as widespread as the distance between the Pizza Pie Pagoda and the apartment roof we ran across, so the chances I’d screw up and smack my head against the concrete waiting below were pretty good. The waist of my yoga pants began to unroll, the fabric sliding down with every pump of my aching legs and I had to waste precious energy to pull them up. But if I didn’t, and I stepped on a hem, I’d stumble.
Stumbling would be bad—like lose a tooth on the balance beam the day before prom bad. Already I could feel the quiver of fatigue in my knees signaling my eventual burn out.
            “He’s going to catch me, he’s going to catch me,” I chanted between panted breaths.
            I spoke more to myself than my companion, but he answered anyway. “Nah, Baby-girl, you got this. Forearm, shoulder, booty, then knee up and walk away. Daily cake.”
            I grunted. Easy for him to say. This fiasco made it five consecutive hours of balls-out athletics for me while he was on hour two and only slightly less out of breath than I.
            “Get back here!” The voice behind bellowed, growing closer.
            I threw off my rhythm a fraction to look behind me. “Damn, he’s on us. How’d he get up here so fast?”
            “You realize I had you this time, right?”
            Appalled at my friend Surge’s attempt to claim a victory when the game had clearly been called due to weather conditions—it was raining cops—I ran faster, pushing myself beyond my limits toward the roof’s edge. I didn’t care if my pants fell around my ankles mid-flight; I was going to win our little game today—and moon the state of Michigan doing it.
But first, I had to stay out of jail.
            “Whoa! Come back.” The cop yelled. He sounded more concerned now than angry.
            Too late. There was no coming back once we’d made the decision to run.
            “Boosh!” Surge yelled as we both hopped the lip of the roof and leapt across the expanse between the buildings, sprawled out and reaching through the air like action heroes.
Unlike the movies, nothing happened slow enough for me to process the danger of a jump. I committed to the plunge and depended on ingrained knowledge to take over.
The Pizza Pie Pagoda building came up fast. I bent my legs to absorb the shock and let my exhausted body fall forward and to the side. The remaining energy of the landing pushed me over in a Side-Roll, taking the impact from thigh to shoulder until the momentum brought me up to my feet again. Hurray incoming bruise.
            Surge’s Roll was swankier than mine, but for once he didn’t gloat. Probably because we didn’t have time.
            “You kids all right?” The cop called from the building over.
            We didn’t take the time to answer him verbally. We just waved off his concern and continued to ignore his command to give ourselves up. Surge grabbed my elbow and helped me to the side of the pizza place where we were able to hang off the side of the roof and drop down into the alley.
            “How you doing?” Surge asked me, once we were making distance between us and the cop.
            “Well, I worked my butt off in gymnastics practice, ran around the mall only to get kicked out because of your food court tabletop trick—”
            “You’ve got to admit that was swank,” he interrupted. “How was I supposed to know they were going to call in the real blue?”
            “And now I’ve spent the last ten minutes upgrading from a trespassing ticket to an arrest.”
            “Only if we got caught, which we didn’t. So you owe me five bucks.” He grinned at me and I couldn’t help but return it.
            “We aren’t off main, yet.” I slapped his extended palm away. “When I’m home and couching you’ll get your five.”
            I tugged off my black hoodie as we walked, stuffing it behind a dumpster to come back for later. We knew the drill. You didn’t walk around wearing the same colored clothes after a cop was running you down. The next corner you turned would probably have you stuffed in a squad car before the first lie left your mouth. Changing shirts wasn’t much, but it was better than nothing. Besides, with my hoodie on, most cops mistakenly took me for a guy. I guess they thought girls had better things to do than monkey around the cityscape.
            “Damn, there’s the cop,” Surge said.
            I looked down the block from where we stood and frowned. He didn’t seem to notice us any more than the other pedestrians, but to be safe, I tugged Surge into The Slow Drip.
            The few tables the coffee-shop had inside were up front with a window view, while racks and racks of tee shirts and other gift items created an aisle to the registers in the back. Outside, a few more two-seater tables were full of the loitering public, making blending in a little easier.
            “I guess we take a time-out for refreshments,” I said.
            Surge paced, looking out the store front with his lips pursed. “He’s going to keep circling and look in here eventually. Not sure stopping was a good idea this time.”
            “Hey Surge,” a girl called out from behind us.
            I turned and nodded a greeting at Ramona as she chatted Surge up. Dressed in her coffee-pot-shaped apron and teardrop visor-hat, she was clearly working the counter.
Wenda, her best friend and my gymnastics nemesis, walked up and stood next to her. We were all on the same team but no one would know it the way they acted—except Wenda and I were both wearing our Kennedy Gymnastics Team tee shirts.
            “Hey guys,” I said, trying to be a beacon of polite through the thick fog of seething hatred. Ramona tried to smile but settled on a grimace. Wenda didn’t even try to hide her nostril-flare face.
            “Ramona-girl, you think you could get us out the back of this place?” Surge asked.
            Standing on her tiptoes, Wenda leaned up to whisper something in Ramona’s ear while staring at me.
Subtle.
            “I can take one of you through,” Ramona started to say.
            Surge snorted. “Forget it.”
            “No, no.” I knew this was a good opportunity to draw less attention to ourselves. “Surge, you go out the back and I’ll go out the front.” I smiled my second best smile at Wenda, while talking to him. “We’ll meet up at the library and finish what we started earlier.”
            His glare at the two girls melted when he turned to me, and I suspected he did that on purpose to show anti-bitchery support. “Ooo. I accept your challenge! I’ll even beat you there.” He winked and then turned to Ramona. “Lead the way, mama.”
            With Ramona taking Surge out the back door, Wenda and I were left standing there. “Guess I’ll see you next practice.” I said.
            “Oh didn’t you hear? We’re going to do individual practices until coach returns from her vacation.”
            Odd. I hadn’t heard, but I wasn’t exactly surprised. Since Regionals and even at practice earlier, I suspected some of the girls were mad at me. Now I had my suspicions confirmed.
            “Well, then. See ya at school.”
            “Whatever.” She did the hand brush-off and turned her back on me, cutting me down without saying another word.
Shaking my head, I turned and left the coffee shop.
No one had ever looked at me with such hatred before, and I couldn’t figure out where it came from. I knew gymnastics competition pitted us against each other a lot, and I’d definitely ridden the group hard at Regionals at the end of last season, but it seemed like there was more to her attitude than just rivalry, but whatever. I couldn’t puzzle through her bullshit when I still needed to get a few blocks away to avoid a tour of the city jail.
Losing my concern for Wenda was easy once I was Freerunning again on my way to the Library. No troubles or stressful thoughts stood a chance against the heart-pumping adrenaline rush that was Parkour.
I raced down streets using the objects in my way to increase my pace instead of slow me down. I swung under a metal railing and leaped over its parallel twin. I jumped over a fire hydrant and the three bikes locked on the rack right next to it, all without choking up.
My seamless movements cancelled out Surge’s head start, and as I rounded the corner on the last block to the library, I caught sight of my friend a block to my right.
At the same time, he noticed me.
I heard his laugh across the distance and the challenge within it spurred me on. “Oh you are so gettingshown,” I promised quietly, forcing my legs into motion.
So close, so close! If I could get to the lion statue first, I’d get the prize, but Surge wasn’t going to make it easy on me. We both ran full speed, coming closer to each other and to our destination.
            I vaulted over one wide stone railing, Kong-style, with my feet straight out in front, ready to catch me for my landing.
            I didn’t expect anyone to be standing there.
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