Well, we’re down the the last two letters of this year’s challenge. I’m happy I made it to the end, posting on time each day. From the comments I’ve received, I know that my semi-theme of introducing others to “new to you” authors went over well. Hopefully, some of you will explore these authors. Every writer was new at one point, and it’s finding a reader base that made them great.
Today’s post relates to the “G” post I made earlier this month. In it, I explained that I decided to write a book for my granddaughter, Hannah, as a Christmas present. This morning, I’ll share a bit about that idea and the book with you.
I take pride in being an author and while I write romance, as a rule, there is very little, if any sex in most of my books. They aren’t exactly “clean reads” because there is a fair amount of violence, especially in my thrillers, and a few curse words, although the infamous “F” word won’t appear. I focus on the plot and the motive, and while there is a romance angle in each book, it does not necessarily involved sex. To me, as romance is about falling in love, not necessarily falling into bed. That isn’t a modern attitude, I know, but as many of my characters often point out, it is what it is.
When I decided to write a YA or young adult novel, I knew some things in the way I write would need to be changed, but it wasn’t long before I realized that, in the end, those changes would be minor. Why? Because even this book like all of the others is plot and character driven.
In each plot, there is a kernel of factual information based on recent or past events and news stories. When I was contemplating the plot for Prove It! I read a number of news articles on teens–the drug problem, the disenfranchisement, the bullying and suicide stats among others, the addiction to social media, but when I was thinking of going with that, I came across a story about the Texas mother who tried to hire a hitman back in the early Nineties to kill a rival cheerleader. That got me thinking of other high school sports, which led to to a number of articles about the increase in betting on the outcome of high school sports teams, the cost involved for athletes who want to make it to the big time. And, of course, the 2016 summer Olympics were on, with all the hype centered on the pool and the track. The infamous “attack” reported by the American swimmer reminded me that people can be desperate to be part of this event. Screwing up comes with a hefty penalty beyond the loss of a medal. That’s where the idea for the plot of Prove It! was born.
Y is for YA novels like Prove It!
High school sports can be more dangerous than you think!
Ivy Hill’s track star, Liam Howard, has his future all mapped out: date Hannah Connors, win the New Horizon scholarship, get a spot on the next Olympic team, and then go to medical school. Sounds simple, especially when he’s well on his way to achieving his dream. But someone else has other plans. Ignoring the most recent threatening note, Liam goes out for his regular practice run and is struck by a vehicle and left for dead.
Hannah refuses to believe Liam will never walk or run again, especially when she learns the person behind the accident may be her own track coach. Working with Erik Jenkins, Liam’s best friend, she searches for proof, but Erik vanishes on his way to see the coach. Now, it’s up to her, Liam, and their friends, to find Erik and the evidence they need to put a hit and run driver behind bars. But time may be running out for both Erik and Liam as someone tries to finish the job they started, regardless of collateral damage.
Here is an excerpt from the story to whet your appetite. While the story is YA, it will appeal to adult readers as well.
Enjoying the adrenalin rush he got from running, feeling the cold wind caress his face, and pleased with the way his muscles worked effortlessly, Liam was surprised when the alarm went off to show he’d run forty minutes straight. He wasn’t even breathing hard and had barely broken a sweat.
Knowing his mother was probably pacing the house and checking the clock every two minutes, he crossed the road and turned west, heading back to the farm. With the wind at his back, he would be home well within the time he’d allowed himself. He’d only gone a mile or so when the skies opened once more, showering him with a cold drizzle, but he barely broke stride. Running in the rain was nothing new, but at the moment, it felt as if he were caught inside a cloud, making visibility poor. If Mom was looking outside, her anxiety meter had gone sky high.
He was less than a hundred yards from his own driveway when the bright LED lights of an approaching vehicle blinded him. There weren’t many of the newer trucks or SUVs in the area, and given the height of the lights, it had to be one of those. Blinking rapidly since the beams pierced his eyes with their intensity, he slowed his pace and relaxed. Despite the mist, there was no way the driver could miss him—his jacket had to be lit up like a Christmas tree.
Liam chuckled softly. Whoever was behind the wheel probably thought he was some kind of idiot. He didn’t care. There was something exciting about braving the elements. The lights vanished as the vehicle disappeared in a trough on the hilly section of the road. Lost in the music, Liam was startled when the lights appeared again, moving toward him faster than they should be. What kind of fool sped under these conditions?
His inner sense of preservation warned him, and after yanking the earbuds out, he inched farther to the side of the road, but the dark pick-up increased its speed. Liam sucked in a breath, surprised by how cold he suddenly felt. The tension in his gut increased. Terror filled him as that note came back to him. Who knew he would be running tonight? Everyone. As Erik had reminded him, his routine was well-known.
Tamping down his panic, Liam moved as far to the edge of the ditch as he could. Unless the driver were under duress and had lost control of his vehicle, which was unlikely given the road conditions, whoever was behind that wheel was aiming right for him. If this was some crazy game of chicken, he wasn’t interested in playing. And if that’s what this was, then the jacket his mother had thought would protect him had just made him a target—a great, big, neon-orange bullseye.
Waving his arms frantically and screaming his lungs out, he stopped within a few yards of his own laneway, standing as close to the slippery edge as he dared, praying he wouldn’t end up at the bottom of the embankment. It was a moot point when the dark-colored truck caught him in the stomach, veered away from the edge of the road, and tossed him into the air as if he were nothing but a rag doll. The full frontal impact with the pavement snapped his head back uncomfortably, his melon bouncing twice before coming to rest on the blacktop, blood pouring from his nose and mouth, his chest on fire, filling him with agony.
The sound of a metal door slamming kept him from succumbing to the darkness all around him. Everything seemed surreal. Was that the hoot of an owl? Footsteps, slow and measured, the click of hard heels on the pavement, floated toward him. The driver was coming to help him. Liam wanted to turn over, to sit up. He couldn’t stay here on the road like this, but his body refused to obey him. The footsteps advanced. Why weren’t they running, hurrying toward him?
A foot caught him in the ribs, adding to his suffering, and flipped him onto his back. Blood from what was most likely his broken nose and the various cuts and scrapes on his face slipped into his mouth, the coppery taste making him gag. Didn’t Mom always say head wounds bled more than any others?
A low moan escaped him, the sound swallowed by the ambient sound of the wind and the truck engine. Liam opened his eyes, but with the blood in them and the rain on his face, he couldn’t focus. All he could make out were the silver-capped, pointed toes of black leather cowboy boots, their heels shining incongruously in the light from the flashlight aimed at his face.
“Too bad you didn’t listen, kid,” a gravelly voice said. “Didn’t want it to come to this. It’s nothing personal, but you pissed off the wrong people.”
The pointed boot caught him forcefully in the ribs again, bringing with it excruciating pain, raising his body up and then letting it flop back down again. The back of his head struck the tarmac hard, sending knives of agony racing along his spine, this anguish almost too much to handle.
Departing footsteps, as slow and measured as they’d been before, echoed on the road, and the vehicle door slammed shut once more. The truck moved away until the sound of the engine was just a memory. He fought to open his eyes, but the rain intensified, as if Mother Nature shared his distress.
Deep cold and numbness erased some of the pain. Was this how it all ended? Thoughts of his mother flooded him. She would never get over this. Losing both her sons at seventeen was more than any mother could handle—and his dad? He would blame himself for not leaving the car.
The owl—was it the one he’d heard earlier?—hooted again. Blood filled his mouth and throat, making it harder to breathe, harder to swallow, and he choked. He tried to turn his head to the side, move his body to crawl off the cold, wet surface, but nothing worked. Where was he? In the middle of the road? The truck had flung him up in the air like garbage and left him to die. Why? What could he have done to deserve this? Would the next vehicle even see him?
An engine, one badly in need of tuning, approached, its steady throb moving closer and closer. It would be upon him in no time. His head swam. This was it. Gone without ever realizing any of his dreams. The blackness edged closer, threatening to take him with it, but Liam fought to stay conscious. On the verge of losing the battle, the squeal of brakes pulled him back.
“Oh God, Liam,” his father’s cry penetrated his consciousness, the agony in his voice almost too much to bear.
Liam wanted to speak, wanted to tell his father how much he loved him and how sorry he was for everything, but he couldn’t fight anymore, and the pain and blackness overtook him.
You can pick up Prove It! for only 99 cents. https://www.amazon.com/Prove-Susanne-Matthews-ebook/dp/B01N2X98ET
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