I'm participating in the Pages of Fear Blog Hop. Don't know what that is? Go HERE to find out how to win 20 signed paperbacks. The secret word is hidden in this excerpt from my Kindle Scout winning novel WITCH WAYS--the book you'll score if you win the hop. You can also win a signed copy of just my book, WITCH WAYS by signing up for my newsletter. Just tell me that you did so in the comments for your chance to win. Plus, EVERYONE who signs up for my newsletter gets a free e-copy of my novella MAKING MUSIC. (The sign up is on the top righthand side of the tool bar.)
So here's the excerpt for WITCH WAYS. The hidden word is all capitalized.
And here's the link to the next blog in the hop! http://cjpinard.com/pages-of-fear-blog-hop-2017/
After English class, Mrs. Price requested I stay.
My stomach flipped, and not because it knew lunch was going to have to wait.
“Excellent article, Evelynn.” Mrs. Price motioned for me to take a seat.
I pulled up a chair and saw my paper on her desk. I was surprised that there wasn’t one red mark on it. In fact, it looked exactly as it had when I’d first turned it in, which was surprising. Mrs. Price usually returned everyone’s papers covered with painful scratches of red ink. Had I finally written a perfect paper? And if so, why wasn’t there the familiar WELL DONE! scrawled across the top?
My stomach flipped again.
Mrs. Price slid her thick glasses up her nose. “You’ve demonstrated not only strong writing skills, but also a true nose for news and the passion that all great journalists need to ferret out a story and pursue it.”
I flushed beneath her praise. “Thank you. So, I’m on the paper?”
Mrs. Price held up her finger. “I’m afraid not.”
“But you said I needed a great article . . . and you just called my article excellent!”
Mrs. Price fished something from her drawer, stood, and carried my article to the waste bin. Seconds later, she flicked the small cylinder in her hand and my article caught fire. The acrid smell of smoke filled the air, as flames licked away at my paper, making me feel sick.
Memories of the last time I was in a school on fire flooded me while smoke and ash lifted in the air, mingling with the smell of the dry-erase board and dusty books.
“That’s why what I’m about to say may surprise you.” She dropped the flaming article into the empty trash bin. “You’ll have to write another piece.” She tossed the cigarette lighter back into her top drawer.
“But why?” I fought tears and disappointment, knowing I’d never find another story as compelling as Andrew and Lauren’s.
“I’m sure you’ll stumble across another story, perhaps one less, shall we say, revealing?” She raised an eyebrow at me, as if to ask if I understood what she was trying to say.
I absolutely did not understand what she meant.
Leaning forward, she braced her elbows on her desk. “As you are fully aware, this school—this community—harbors a unique and talented collection of women. The safety of this community is dependent on discretion and trust. I’m afraid that publishing your article may raise unnecessary questions.”
I sat back in my chair. “Because Lauren thought she was a witch?”
Mrs. Price pinched her lips together, but didn’t say a word.
“But she’s dead! Nothing I can say can hurt her!”
“We have said too much already.” Mrs. Price pushed to her feet. “If you wish a place on the paper, you must find and write another article, a safer article. I hope, and trust, that in time you’ll understand. And learn to be more judicious.”
I stood slowly, my thoughts reeling.
“I know this must seem harsh, but I can’t guarantee you a place on the paper without a publishable article, and I will not publish an article that might garner suspicions and unnecessary questions.”
“But I don’t even mention witchcraft, or anything . . .”
She lowered her eyebrows, and pointed to the door. “You have until the semester break. I wish you well. You’ll make an excellent addition to our newspaper.”
“Thank you?” I mumbled, feeling dismissed and confused. After gathering up my book bag and glancing at the smoldering ashes in the TRASH bin, I headed for the door.
“Oh, and Evelynn,” Mrs. Price began.
I turned around.
“It’s not necessary to be a witch to be successful at this school, and in life, but it certainly helps.”
Outside the door, I leaned against the wall, clutching my book bag to my chest. Down the hall and through the open cafeteria doors came the sound of laughter, clinking silverware, and talking—hundreds of students, each trying to be successful academically, musically, athletically, by studying, practicing, and sweating.
She’s wrong, I decided. Every day I make the choice of whether or not to be a witch over and over again. Magic and witchyness don’t have to be the key ingredients. I can be my very best self on my own.