My Words: A Young Adult Short Story

Welcome to Amazing Words Wednesday, the day we enter the labyrinth of language and we see what we can find. On the first Wednesday of each month, I’m featuring some snippet of my words; that is, my writing.

In April of this year, ORANGE KAREN: TRIBUTE TO A WARRIOR was released. This anthology features more than 30 short stories from various genres. Among them is my young adult contemporary short story, Color Me Happy. Here’s an excerpt:

Orange Pompoms

Oh, how I wanted to be the girl-on-top.

I know what you’re thinking, but the term had nothing to do with sexual aggressiveness or sluthood. I’m not like that. I’m talking cheerleading pyramid.

Splits, back flips, herkies, toe-touch jumps, tumbling passes—I could do them in my sleep. I’d been tumbling since elementary school and a cheerleader since the first tryouts in junior high. I’d craved that top spot since I’d made the high school varsity squad, and finally the cheerleading coach had designated me to be “the girl-on-top.”

We came out in orange football jerseys with tight white shorts, shaking our orange-and-white pompoms. With my natural light red—okay, orange—hair, I looked like a striped traffic cone. The first part of our routine went smoothly—a choreographed dance to a pop and hip-hop medley. Then it was go time for our stunts. The lifts and jumps were as smooth as the satin ribbons in our hair, as three of us were hoisted up and thrown into flips and twists, each caught by three spotters below. The students clapped and yelled as we performed our daring feats . . . or showed off our legs—take your pick.

Then we gathered up into a bunch and started to form the final trick. I was lifted like before, but this time even higher. At the top, I raised one leg over my head and stood single-footed on the flattened hands of junior Tara Smith. The crowd erupted with cheers, and the stands rumbled with the feet of hundreds of students expressing their admiration. I was there—at the top to hear and see it all.

My heart thumped wildly, and my head floated further above my third-story location. The music ended on a boom, and the praise of our spectators washed over me anew. This was exactly where I’d wanted to be.

And then I felt it. A slight movement at the bottom of the pyramid, like the princess felt the pea or Yertle the Turtle burped at the bottom. Immediately, I lowered my leg, and Tara quickly responded by spreading out her hands to let me stand in a more stable position. But her hand faltered. Her balance wavered. Time slowed to a crawl, and I could see what was happening before I fell.

The cheerleaders’ hold gave way, and I went down like an ice cream scoop onto the sidewalk. Spotters scrambled beneath me. I had one last thought before I landed: “Please, no one put this on YouTube.”

ORANGE KAREN Book CoverTo read more, check out the book: ORANGE KAREN: TRIBUTE TO A WARRIOR. The current Kindle price is only $3.99, and Amazon Prime members can borrow it for free!

Do you enjoy short stories? Do you have any anthology recommendations? And have you ever been on the top of a cheerleading pyramid?

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My Published Words

Welcome to Amazing Words Wednesday, the day we enter the labyrinth of language and see what fabulous fun we can discover together.

Normally it’s something about grammar, word play, etymology, famous quotes, etc. But today I got into the maze, turned a corner, and voila, there it was! The Goblin KingThe Goblet of Fire. Okay, actually it was this:

Orange Karen Cover

If you follow my blog, you know I’ve already mentioned the Orange Karen Tribute Anthology–oh, maybe three or twenty times. But tomorrow feels rather special to me because I finally get to share my wordsmy languagemy story with readers.

Tomorrow, April 11, is the official release day for this anthology featuring short stories from various genres. My YA contemporary short, COLOR ME HAPPY, is among them.

Karen DeLabar
“Orange Karen”

I began writing over four years ago, but this is the first fiction piece I’ve had published. And the cause is such a good one–supporting our marvelous writer friend, Karen DeLabar, as she continues to battle the fallout of Toxic Shock Syndrome.

But I thought I’d share some other words of mine today as well. Because while this is my first fiction piece in print, it isn’t the first thing I’ve had published.

You see, I made an appearance in the December/January 2001 issue of Child magazine. Was I giving parenting advice? Oh no. I was asking for it. I had read all of the What to Expect books, but the pregnancy/motherhood books that most helped me gain perspective were the Girlfriend’s Guide books written by Vicki Iovine. She had an advice column in the magazine, and I submitted a question. Yep, I was Sleepless in Texas.

Child Magazine page

And then there was the 2011 DFW Writers’ Conference. Penguin Promo had a booth in the exhibit hall. Several days beforehand, they ran a contest for t-shirt slogans. The prize was simply that your slogan would be chosen, sold at the conference, and you would receive a freebie. I submitted a few slogans, and one was chosen to grace the front of a shirt.

T-shirt: I'd grovel to publish my novel.
I’d grovel to publish my novel.

So having been “published” already, should I really be that exuberant about the release of my short story?

WELL, I AM.

I’m thrilled to start my fiction publications with a short story, in the YA genre, among a group of quality authors, and for the benefit of Karen. What better way to have a “debut”?!

If you would like to read my words–and/or those of the other 38 authors involved in this project–here’s where you can buy, starting Thursday, April 11.

Amazon print book: ORANGE KAREN: TRIBUTE TO A WARRIOR

Amazon ebook: ORANGE KAREN: TRIBUTE TO A WARRIOR

Also be sure to mark this a “Want to Read” on Goodreads and post a review (if you do that sort of thing).

Remember that all proceeds go toward helping Karen pay her medical and rehabilitation expenses. And a massive thanks to Christina Esdon, the leader of this project, who has been gracious at every turn and a delightful person to work with.

So what were the first words you ever had published? Have you ever written in to a magazine or newspaper? Have you ever come up with a slogan? Which of your words are you particularly proud of?