Girl in the Middle by Christine Bailey

Girl in the Middle

Fifteen-year-old Skye, the middle child, finds herself wishing for a new life-one that doesn’t include daily harassment from the in-crowd at Highland Creek High School. Skye barely survived freshman year. She only did because her best friend, Goose, a semi-popular fellow band geek, was by her side. But when their sophomore year starts, Goose ditches Skye for a new crowd.

Cast into a lone existence at Highland Creek, Skye wishes for a touch of extraordinary that everyone, except her, seems to have. Her older sister, Sara Elizabeth, has it. Goose is getting close to it, and even her little sister is wildly popular in junior high. Skye would do almost anything to cast off her ordinary life…but at what price?

When her older sister goes missing without a trace, Skye gets her wish…but it’s not exactly what she had in mind. And when she questions Bryan, the senior class renegade and also the last person to be seen with her sister, she finds something she never quite expected.


After the bell, I headed to Ms. Stone’s classroom for lunch. It had become my usual place for dining since Lauren and I were so on-again, off-again. I really had no other place to go. But when I walked in, I found the principal and the school counselor—always a bad combination—sitting with Ms. Stone. My gut lurched.

The principal, Mr. Jones, was sitting on the corner of Ms. Stone’s desk with a roll of fat spilling over his belted pants. Mr. Munsey and Ms. Stone sat close to him. They all turned to me, and I began to inch backwards. The room was still. I fixated on the literature posters on the wall. William Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, and Charles Dickens stared at me. Ms. Stone eased toward me. I sighed slowly through my nostrils. My heart raced, and everything felt like it was moving in slow motion. All I could think was: what have I done? Then I thought, someone’s dead. I was quickly assured that I was not in trouble, that they just wanted to talk to me for a few minutes. I tried to think of something questionable that I had done. Ms. Stone informed me that she had read my latest paper.

“Which one?” I asked. I tried to figure out which paper she was talking about.

“The one on Romeo and Juliet?” Then it hit me.

“I didn’t plagiarize,” I said.

“No, the one you turned in a couple of days ago.” I shrugged.

“Your essay was a little disturbing to Ms. Stone,” said Mr. Munsey. “She asked me to read it and give her my thoughts. That’s why I’m here.” Mr. Munsey, a large and bushy-haired man, looked about the same age as Ms. Stone, like around thirty-something probably. He had the mountain-man look—okay on a movie star, but not so much on Mr. Munsey.

“I don’t even remember what it was about. I wrote it last week when I had my migraine.”

“A story about ‘offing the populars,’ as you put it,” Mr. Jones said.

I slumped into a chair and said, “Oh. My short story.”

“Skye, we’re just concerned…” Mr. Munsey said. “About you being bullied.” He really dragged out the word concerned.

“I’m fine, and the story was not a hit list or plan or anything. I was just having a bad day and wrote a stupid story. It was like therapy. It was supposed to be funny, actually.”

“Well, it’s enough to make us question you,” Mr. Munsey said.

“It’s not a journal entry,” I said. “It’s not a cry for help or anything. I was just writing. It’s a fictional story about a school with no populars. No hierarchy. No Queen Bees or loud-mouthed jocks.”

The counselor pointed out a specific passage. He said, “Skye, it’s just realistic, and it concerns me.” That word again. “See, right here where you say, ‘The cheerleader, wide-eyed and gasping for air, clutched her bleeding stomach. She lifted her fingers and studied the warm liquid that had painted them a deep red, almost dark as night. She looked up into the eyes of her enemy…’”

“I have an active imagination.” Pause. Shrill laughs filtered in from the hallway. I even recognized one of the chicken laughs as Lauren’s. “I watch too much TV?” Pause. The chicken clucked again.

“You can’t write about ways to eliminate popular kids—or anyone for that matter. You watch the news. You know what’s going on in the world today. It’s a scary place,” Mr. Munsey said. He looked at me over his thickly rimmed glasses. I realized in that moment, standing before the jury and still hearing the chicken laugh from the hall, that I was in trouble.

“I was just writing a story…that’s all,” I said. I volunteered myself for any kind of test or evaluation to prove I was not crazy. Big mistake. They jumped on it.

Mr. Munsey wiped his glasses on a handkerchief (those disgusting, snot-holders should be outlawed, by the way). The trio exchanged looks, and then Mr. Jones and Mr. Munsey stood up. Their chairs scraped against the tiled floor. Before filing out of the room, Mr. Munsey said he’d be in touch about starting “sessions” with me or something. They left me alone with Ms. Stone.

“I’m so sorry, Skye, but I did this out of concern for you. I’ve been worried, and then this paper…”

“Wow, do I really look that pathetic and sad?” We stood looking at each other. The blue-gray circles under her eyes became sharper under the fluorescent lights. The window facing the quad outside caught my attention and pulled me away from Ms. Stone’s face. The quad was filled with activity. I saw blurs of color flash in front of me. Pink, wind-chapped faces, blue varsity jackets, white-blonde hair. I closed my eyes and shut everything out. “Can I leave?” I asked.

“I would still like to talk, Skye.”

“Maybe later, if that’s okay,” I opened my eyes and stared at her. She had betrayed me. “Can I leave?” I said again.


I flew to the bathroom. My make-up had run in places from the tears. I haphazardly reapplied some make-up to my blotchy cheeks and chin. Then I smoothed it in slowly, covering the little bumps on my face with the foundation. I squeezed on berry-flavored lip gloss for good measure. Though it didn’t do much to help, the berry taste was a tiny comfort. Then I went and hid in the library. It was just a stupid story. I played the conversation over and over in my mind. The bell rang for fourth period and then for fifth. I was numb and couldn’t move from the hard, cold chair. The smooth surface of the table felt good against my face, too. At one point, I saw Ms. Stone through my hair that had fallen across my eyes, but I didn’t acknowledge her. Eventually she left.

Finally, I mustered up enough strength and took out a small mirror from my bag. I cringed at the streaks of mascara on my face. I tried to rub them away, but my face was a wreck. I glanced down at my watch and freaked. I had been hiding out in the library for over two hours. I had twenty minutes to pull myself together before last bell. I gathered up my stuff and snuck out of the library, straight to the math hall for a more obscure bathroom. I did not want to chance it by going to the one in the main hall. My instincts were good. It was empty. I dumped my purse out into the sink and began my patchwork. That’s when it went from bad to worse.

Zoë, with her perfect looks and ego the size of New York City, pranced in with her royal court in tow. I didn’t look up. I was told to never ever make eye contact with the enemy.

“Hello, Skye.”

“Hi,” I said and looked up stupidly. She smiled at me with her perfectly straight, perfectly white, and perfectly over-sized horse teeth. Her mouth, too big for her face, overwhelmed her eyes and pointed nose that tipped slightly upward.

“We were just talking about you.” She looked over at her minions and breathed a laugh through her nose.

“Oh yeah?” I said. Trapped in the smallest bathroom in the school, with only two stalls and one long sink, I shared the space with unfriendly forces. I swallowed hard and nearly choked on my saliva. I glanced at the girl standing beside Zoë and realized we used to be friends. Shelby and I played soccer together in the sixth grade.

“So, Skye, I heard a little rumor about you,” Zoë said.


“Aren’t you a little bit curious?”

“No. Not really.”

“Oh, come on. You have to be.”

“What is it, Zoë?”

“I heard you wrote a story about being bullied. Poor baby, you’re not gonna go psycho, are you?”


“My source overheard Ms. Stone and another teacher talking about it.”

“Whatever. They were probably talking about me winning that writing contest. Yeah, first place. Pretty awesome, huh?” I had been kicked in the gut. Well, not literally, but that’s what it felt like having these girls corner me. Everything went numb, except my brain. I couldn’t imagine how they found out. I looked at Shelby for help, but she was more interested in biting her fingernail. I threw my stuff back in my purse and reached for the door, but Zoë pushed me aside and hurried in front of me.

With a quick snap of her ponytail, she glanced back at me and said,“Whatever.”

I waited it out for a few minutes in the bathroom. The call for bus riders filtered through the intercom, and I finally poked my head out just as last bell rang and made a dash for it. I fought my way through the crowd that had begun to fill the hallways and ran to my locker. I noticed Zoë’s handiwork immediately. On my locker: a post-it note with the word “LOSER” in nice, big block letters and a picture of a stick figure with a huge head. It had curly hair and glasses, and it was crying. Great Sharpie skills. I grabbed it and crumpled it in my hand. The sharp little edges poked my palm.


Author Picture - Christine BaileyChristine H. Bailey teaches Creative Writing and Written Composition at a private university in Tennessee. Before teaching English, Bailey worked as a journalist, a marketing/public relations writer, and a freelance editor.

Girl in the Middle is Bailey’s debut novel. To learn more about this author and her work, visit her online at


The Red Sheet by Mia Kerick



The Red Sheet by Mia Kerick



October morning, high school junior Bryan Dennison wakes up a different
person—helpful, generous, and chivalrous—a person whose new admirable qualities
he doesn’t recognize. Stranger still is the urge to tie a red sheet around his
neck like a cape.

Bryan soon realizes this compulsion to wear a red cape is accompanied by more
unusual behavior. He can’t hold back from retrieving kittens from tall trees,
helping little old ladies cross busy streets, and defending innocence anywhere
he finds it.

Shockingly, at school, he realizes he used to be a bully. He’s attracted to the
former victim of his bullying, Scott Beckett, though he has no memory of Scott
from before “the change.” Where he’d been lazy in academics, overly aggressive
in sports, and socially insecure, he’s a new person. And although he can recall
behaving egotistically, he cannot remember his motivations.

Everyone, from his mother to his teachers to his “superjock” former pals, is
shocked by his dramatic transformation. However, Scott Beckett is not impressed
by Bryan’s newfound virtue. And convincing Scott he’s genuinely changed and
improved, hopefully gaining Scott’s trust and maybe even his love, becomes
Bryan’s obsession.



you guys!” Marley plunked her ass down on the chair across the table from me.
As usual, Kathy followed closely behind and hovered by her shoulder when Marley
sat down. “I’ve got big news!”


all turned to her at once. Josh even put down his
walnut-grape-granola-goat-cheese-chicken-salad sandwich on focaccia to give her
his full attention. “What’s up?” he asked between enthusiastic chews.


just heard some teachers talking in the hall. And they said that Friday is Miss
Libby’s thirtieth birthday.”


pursed her green lips. “We can’t let it pass without doing something for her.
She’s the coolest teacher at Appleton.”
know what would be so funny?” It was Josh again. “It would be such a riot if we
set up a flash mob for her.”
all laughed, just imagining it in our heads.
seriously,” Josh said. “We should set up a flash mob for her. Doesn’t she have
lunch duty on most Fridays?”
this the Josh I know?
then, what did I have to lose? “I’m in.” It was the least I could do for Miss
Libby, who’d given me a chance to redeem myself with Scotty.
do that?” Scott appeared absolutely scandalized. “What about those guys?” He
again nodded toward the Superjocks. “They’ll never let you live it down.”
me if I care?”
just sat there, his full spoon frozen just beneath his lips.
Scott didn’t voice the question, David did. “D-do y-you c-care?”
looked squarely at David. “Not even slightly. Plus, you should see me dance. It
is something to behold.”
rolled his eyes, because he’d seen it a time or two, but everyone else seated
at the Social Justice League Table nodded and grinned.
get together as many kids as I can and I’ll find some music. We can practice at
the community center right after school on Thursday. I’ll reserve it.” Marley
was always on top of those kinds of things.
posed a problem for me, though: basketball practice. But I had new priorities.
I would work it out. “I’ll be there. How about all of you?”
nodded again. Scott had turned an enticing shade of pink.


looked right at him and said, “Then Thursday after school is a date.”

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About the Author:



Mia Kerick is the mother of four
exceptional children—all named after saints—and five non-pedigreed cats—all
named after the next best thing to saints, Boston Red Sox players. Her husband
of twenty years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t
ask Mia about that, as it is a sensitive subject.
Mia focuses her stories on the
emotional growth of troubled men and their relationships, and she believes that
sex has a place in a love story, but not until it is firmly established as a
love story. As a teen, Mia filled spiral-bound notebooks with romantic tales of
tortured heroes (most of whom happened to strongly resemble lead vocalists of
1980s big-hair bands) and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping. She
is thankful to Dreamspinner Press for providing her with an alternate place to
stash her stories.
Mia is proud of her involvement
with the Human Rights Campaign and cheers for each and every victory made in
the name of marital equality. Her only major regret: never having taken typing
or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered
pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology.
themes I always write about:

Unconventional love, tortured/damaged heroes – only love can save them.

Author Links:  

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Muddy Max: The Mystery of Marsh Creek



Award-winning author and illustrator team make middle-grade graphic novel debut with Muddy Max


​ ​

​PORTLAND, OR, July 13 — The new middle-grade graphic novel Muddy Max: The Mystery of Marsh Creek written by Elizabeth Rusch and illustrated by Mike Lawrence will be published August 5, 2014 by Andrews McMeel/AMP! Comic for Kids.


Rusch’s quirky characters include Max, the first-ever slime-covered superhero, his annoying neat-freak parents, his tech-savvy sidekick, and his RC-driving, mountain-biking tomboy crush.  With only three colors in his palette (black, white and brown), illustrator Mike Lawrence brings all the action to life in the weird world of Marsh Creek, the muddiest town in the country.  Will Muddy Max figure out who or what is lurking behind the trees in the muddy marsh – and save a few lives in the process?

Muddy Max takes that eternal struggle between kids and parents―whether to play in or stay out of mud puddles―and turns it into an epic tale full of secrets and superpowers.” ―Matthew Holm, co-creator of Babymouse and Squish


“A book you won’t be able to put down—or wash off!”

—Bart King, author of The Big Book of Superheroes


Elizabeth Rusch’s children’s titles have been recognized by:

  • ALA Notable, Junior Library Guild and Book of the Month Club
  • Best Book of the Year listings by KirkusSchool Library JournalNBC NewsBooklist, The New York Public Library
  • Children’s choice awards in Arizona, Illinois, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and Texas.

Learn more about the author at

View the illustrator’s work at

Contact either to hear how Muddy Max was born of muddy runs, bedtime stories, a chance meeting at local comic con, and  brainstorming sessions at Voodoo Donuts…



Review copies available on request.


Muddy Max:

The Mystery of Marsh Creek

Written by Elizabeth Rusch

Illustrated by Mike Lawrence

Available August 2014

224 Pages


AMP! Comics for Kids

ISBN 9781449435615


Interview with Foxglove Lee

Where do you hail from and what do you love most about your hometown?Trust and Other Lies cover

Foxglove: I’ve lived in Toronto all my life and the best thing about this place is its diversity.  Toronto is the most multicultural city in the world, or so I hear.  It’s not perfect (as anyone who’s seen our mayor on late night talk shows can attest), but it’s safer and more welcoming to LGBTQ people like myself than a lot of places.  I can’t imagine living anywhere else.


As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Foxglove: Everything. My mother still has crayon drawings of me as a doctor and a firefighter (not at the same time, but that would be something).  As a teen, I desperately wanted to become a stage actor.  I never wanted to be famous, I just loved the theatre and I was pretty good but, man, it takes a lot of mental fortitude to do that for a living.  I still have friends in the theatre world and… yeah, I miss it sometimes, but I see how hard they scrounge for work. It’s not easy.


Tell us about your latest book.

Foxglove: I always said I’d never write a book about a writer, but I did and it’s “Truth and Other Lies,” published by Evernight Teen.  “Truth and Other Lies” is very little about truth and very much about lies.  The main character, 18-year-old Kenny, is lying to pretty much everyone about pretty much everything.  He self-published a manuscript that didn’t technically belong to him and—OOPS!—it somehow miraculously became an overnight bestseller.  Meanwhile, he’s fallen in love with a guy and a girl who—OOPS again!—happen to be dating each other. What a mess.


Do you have anything new in the works and can you tell us a bit about it?

Foxglove: I’ve got a few ideas burbling around in my head, but at the moment I’m concentrating on promoting the novels that are currently available.  I have a bad habit of opening a document, outlining an entire new book, and then closing the document and never looking at it again.  Poor books, so lost and ignored by their author…


Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing?

Foxglove: Getting started.  I’m very hard on myself and I second-guess myself a lot, so just getting to the point where I open that outline back up and start filling in the blanks takes a big push. Marketing is difficult too, for me, because I have to get past that Canadian thing of feeling like I’m going to bother people by telling them I wrote this book and maybe they should consider reading it.


What advice would you give to writers just starting out?

Foxglove: LISTEN. To editors, in particular, but listen to everyone who has more experience than you do.  Even if they’re not right and you misstep, at least you’ll learn from the experience, right?  I find I always have an initial “wall” that goes up when I hear advice I don’t want to take.  In my mind, I go over all the reasons I’m right and they’re wrong, but by the end of that mental conversation I always realize that, nope, I’m wrong and they’re right.  That happens to me all the time.


Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?

Foxglove: Writing is the easy part (most days).  And ideas come easy.  They fall out of the air, and out of life, out of half-heard conversations.  It’s just a matter of sitting myself down and doing the work.


Who is your favorite author and why?

Foxglove: My favourite author is usually the one I’m reading when you ask me that question. Just yesterday I started reading Stephen Fry’s first book and I love his voice.  The tone is very HIM.  Very witty, very Britty, and exceedingly, unapologetically gay.  Love it.  It’s so refreshing to read a queer book that isn’t mired in tragedy and angst.


What books have most influenced your life?

Foxglove: I loved Judy Blume books when I was in middle school. They were so honest.  I appreciated that, as a young reader.  A Wrinkle in Time was a favourite, too, because I was interested in physics and I could relate to that sense of having to save my family.  Mmm…now I want to go back and read all those books again.


How did you deal with rejection letters?

Foxglove: Coming from a theatre background, I find rejection letters much easier to deal with than lousy auditions. When I get a rejection letter, I feel like my WORK has been rejected.  Okay. I can deal with that.  In theatre, when you don’t get a part you always feel like YOU’ve been rejected. When I was fourteen, a casting director called me “bitchy” (OMG can you believe she said that to a 14-year-old?)!  Nothing like has ever happened to me in the book world, so I can’t complain.


What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?

Foxglove: Books.  Even if you never take a writing class in your life, read every day.  I think a writer gleans more from reading quality fiction than from classroom time.  Mind you, I say that as a person with a degree, so I must have thought education was important at some point in my life.


Where do you as an author draw the line on gory descriptions and/or erotic content?

Foxglove: My first novel, “Tiffany and Tiger’s Eye,” was a horror story about an evil doll, but even that wasn’t particularly gory, in my mind.  I’m not sure if readers found it so.  As for erotic content, I wouldn’t say my books include any. They are safe for a young adult audience.  “Truth and Other Lies” alludes to sexual activity, but it happens off-screen.  The most the reader sees is a bit of kissing.  I think, in “Truth and Other Lies,” the fight scenes take the place of sex, in a way.


Don’t forget to give us links to your website etc.

Be sure to visit me online at my blog, You can G+ me in the sidebar, and you totally should!  Also follow me on Twitter @FoxgloveLee. Say hi and I’ll be sure to follow you back.  Sometimes I get lonely.  And I set up my Pinterest account when my first book came out so it’s If you called me Tiffany Tigereye I’ll probably even answer to it, LOL. And, of course, check out the new book at!



TRUTHand other lies

by Foxglove Lee


An Evernight Teen ~ Alternative Young Adult



Have you ever wanted to get noticed? Have you ever felt like no matter how hard you worked or how hard you tried, nobody in the entire world cared what you did?  Well, what if someone famous—and we’re talking Oprah-famous, here—noticed you for the one thing you wish you could hide? For your one big secret…


That’s exactly what happens to 18-year-old Kenneth McIntyre when television guru Prahna Mehta hails his self-published novel as the next bestseller. Little do his new fans know Truth and Other Lies wasn’t written by Kenny at all… and it isn’t fiction. Kenny’s been keeping secrets for years. Sometimes he feels like he’s lying to everybody he loves.


When Kenny gets swept into stardom, how will he hide the secrets he’s kept for years? And, if his lies are exposed, will anyone stay by his side?



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Nobody cried more than Kenny’s mom.  Not even Kenny.


He started to understand that saying, “he was beside himself,” because that’s exactly how he felt.  At Millie’s funeral, he kept glancing at the empty seat beside him—one of five they’d reserved in the front row for Millie’s family—because he felt like the real Kenny was sitting in the next chair, and his body was just an empty shell.


Millie was right, all those times she’d said her parents wouldn’t come to her funeral.  She’d told Kenny and his mom, “You don’t understand, guys.  I’m already dead to them.  Why would they go to my funeral when I died three years ago?  I died when I came out.”


Kenny didn’t believe that, of course.  When he and his mom made the funeral arrangements, they even asked to have some of the readings done in Chinese.  If her parents did come—and Kenny really and truly believed they would—they’d certainly appreciate the scripture in their mother tongue. They were very religious people, from what Millie said.


He stared at the grey chair beside him while the funeral people played one of Millie’s favorite songs.  Any other day, he’d have been fuming that her family hadn’t shown up.  But today?  Today he didn’t have enough energy to feel anger.  He didn’t have enough energy to feel anything, not even sadness.  It was like a total absence of emotion.  He was an empty shell.


The funeral went by in a haze.  As they drove to the cemetery, all he could think about was the look of serenity on Millie’s face as she lay in that coffin.  That gleaming white coffin, like Liberace’s piano.  She would have laughed at it.  She would have thrown her head back, cackled, and said, “You’re gonna bury me in that?”


Kenny could still hear her laughter.


When his mother pulled into the cemetery parking lot, he pressed his head against the cool glass and cried.  More than cried.  Sobbed.  He felt like his heart had been ripped out of his chest.  It was an actual, physical pain, and it hurt so badly he worried that, when he opened his jacket, his crisp white shirt would be stained in blood.  He almost wished it was.  He wished his wounds could be obvious to the world.  He wanted everybody to understand.  Nobody did.


Except his mom.  She squeezed his hand so hard she jammed his knuckles together.  That was a good pain, a useful pain.  He couldn’t bring himself to look at her, but he gripped her hand, trying to show some support.  Because she was hurting too.

“Come on, buddy.”  Mom snapped a tissue from the box and blotted her face, wiped her nose.  “Let’s get out to the gravesite.”


Millie would have thought all this grief was hilarious.


Plenty of people from school had come to the service.  Far fewer had come out for the burial.  Kenny’s mom had paid for everything—the funeral, the coffin, the plot—and it didn’t come cheap.  In all, she’d spent nearly ten grand, most of it on credit.  But Millie was worth the expense.  She was the daughter Mom never had.


Kenny felt old before his time, having to deal with all this death stuff.  But there he went, thinking about himself again.  If Millie were there, she’d tell him to be happy. “Be happy you’re still alive.  Be happy the sun is shining and the birds are chirping.  Be happy spring is in the air.”


Well the sun wasn’t shining and the birds weren’t chirping, not for Kenny.  And spring?  Spring was just a pile of mud. Slick mud and stinking dog crap under a mound of melting snow.


That’s all Kenny could think of during the burial: how Millie was going underground, under all the mud and crap and snow.  She’d never feel the sunlight on her skin.  She’d never hear the birds. She’d died in the springtime of her life.


Author bio:Foxglove Author Pic


Foxglove Lee is a former aspiring Broadway Baby who now writes queer fiction for young adults.  She tries not to be too theatrical, but her characters often take over.  Like Noah from her OmniLit Bestseller “The Secret to a Perfect Latke” who comes out in the most unforgettable way imaginable.  Or Stefani from “Token Lesbians” in the “Year’s End” horror anthology (Untreed Reads), whose defiance incurs the wrath of the subway system.  Or Mila and Laura, who make each other laugh a bit in “I Hate Love” and a lot in “Happy Birthday, Klutzface!” And who can forget her debut novel “Tiffany and Tiger’s Eye”? It’s set in the 80s and features an evil doll!





Twitter: @FoxgloveLee

Giveaway:$10 Evernight Teen Gift Certificate


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