Guess what?! Tonight I finished and turned in Cutting Up The Competition (Horror High Book #2)! Finishing a book is like finishing a workout, it feels good afterwards but it’s exhausting.
Some people say writers should write every day, and I know lots of writers who do that and love it. For me, when I write a book I do it so intensely…I don’t watch TV or do anything else in my free time besides write. So, when it’s all said and done, my brain and body need time to recuperate.
So, I’m super excited to be on a short writing break now and I’m happy with how the second book in the new series turned out.
Now that the new series is getting closer to being released, I’m getting pumped! So since it’s Tuesday and “Teaser Tuesday” just sounds good, let’s celebrate with some sneak peeks :-).
The first book of the Horror High series comes out April 5th. I’ll be revealing the cover for it in 10 days. (Yay!).
Here are some teasers for Cheerleading Can Be Murder, as well as the back cover blurb, prologue, and first chapter!!! I hope you guys like them :-).
For Harrow High freshman Dakota Densford, life should be easy. All she has to worry about is talking to cute boys and remembering her locker combination. But when cheerleading tryouts draw near, she learns the cards are stacked against her—spots on the varsity team are limited. Dakota faces her competition head-on, but when her life is threatened, that takes the competition to a whole new level.
High school is never easy, and freshman year is off to a rough start…
Between Dakota’s uniform being ripped up and masked vandals trashing another girl’s house, everyone is suspect. To complicate matters further, Dakota has a thing for Andy McGraw, but she finds him locking lips with another girl.
The harassment continues, and when Dakota finds suspicious flyers inside her best friend’s locker, she doesn’t know what to think. The principal’s unfeeling, overachiever daughter, Brittani Barlow, will do anything to secure her place on the team. But Dakota’s neighbor, on the other hand, definitely fits the profile of a sociopath.
Cheerleading has become a game of life and death.
Do you want to know what death smells like? What it really smells like?
Take a pound of raw meat—I recommend ground chuck. Stick it in a vacuum-sealed container. Place the container in the fridge and leave it there. A few months later, take it out.
Remove the lid.
Nothing can prepare you for the brick wall that smacks your face, filling every orifice of your body simultaneously.
That smell…not only will it blow you away, but smells like that, they stick with you.
Lifeless meat in a tight, confined space produces a smell sharp enough to burn the lashes off your eyelids.
So, for the rest of the day you’ll be moving along…and then some small thing reminds you— little Tommy’s Happy Meal or a dump truck rolling by on garbage day—and your nose twitches, remembers, and the hairs inside your nostrils stiffen. Your throat tickles in the back, bile rising, and your belly rolls uncomfortably. You try to push the thought aside, to forget that smell, but…you can’t.
Like I said, smells stick with you. Even months—maybe years—later, you’ll be walking along, minding your own business, when something—anything, really—reminds you of that smell.
I know what death smells like…
The house is empty, silent. The quiet consumes me, a welcoming blanket…a sign that it’s finally time.
The mini-fridge was my grandma’s idea. A teenager now, she thought I deserved my own little space for drinks and snacks.
I squatted down in front of it, listening to its hum. My heart pumped, excitement building.
Today was the day.
It’d been nearly six months now since I started my little “experiment.” I’d kept a journal, taking notes on my observations regarding the specimen. A disciplined endeavor.
I’d done a lot of monitoring, but today was the day to really observe, up close and personal.
I opened the fridge, enjoying the sticky “smooch” sound of the rubber seals on each side separating. A couple cans of soda sat on the top shelf. Generic cola, probably expired. On the bottom was my Tupperware container, its red cap securely fastened in place. Keeping all the smells inside…
Carefully, I slid the container off the shelf, carrying it to the center of my bedroom floor, tiptoeing like a gymnast on a balance beam. I plopped on my belly, burning my bare knees across the carpet. I pressed my face to the plastic, looking inside like it was a tiny window. I made a funny face, pressing my lips to the side and blowing, exposing my teeth.
Two eyes, wide and frozenly frightened, stared back at me through the plastic container. The eyeballs mushy now, there were tiny bits and pieces of egg-white eyeball chunks floating in the fluids surrounding its face. The once shiny black coat faded now to a murky brown color.
Excitedly, I lifted the lid. Taking in the smells of death. “Meow.” I grinned at my stinky friend.
It was a smell I’d never forget…hopefully.
In exactly six minutes, the morning bell at Harrow High will ring, inducting me in as a new freshman. Considering it was my first year of high school, I should have been excited about so many things, like hot senior boys, invitations to unchaperoned parties, and getting my driver’s license in the spring. Alternatively, I should have been worried about mean older girls, finding my classes, and remembering my locker combination. But there was one thing, and one thing only, that I was excited and worried about—Harrow High’s varsity cheerleading tryouts. I cheered in elementary and middle school, but what I’m talking about now is the Big Leagues. Harrow’s varsity cheerleading squad was one of the best in the nation for cheerleading competitions, and the basketball team they represented on game nights wasn’t too shabby either. I wanted it so bad I could taste it, and I’d been preparing for this my whole life with dance lessons and intense gymnastics training. I was skilled and peppy enough to deserve a spot on the team, but it simply wasn’t that easy. There were so many factors standing in my way of getting a fair shot at my dream.
Here’s the deal—only six girls could make it, and for the past few years, the same six girls had held tightly to their positions. This year was different though because two of the six had graduated, leaving two vacant spots. Everyone who tried out was supposed to have an equal advantage, including the four returning cheerleaders, but I had no doubt that those same four would get their spots back.
The first of the four returning members was Tasha Faraday, a lovely senior with dirty blonde hair, killer legs, and double D breasts despite being perfectly petite. Looks aside, she was a brilliant tumbler, the designated flyer for all pyramids and stunts, and an all-around terrific cheerleader. Her attitude and personality? Well, let’s just say those qualities paled in comparison to her cheerleading abilities and attractiveness.
Tasha’s two sidekicks, Tally Johannsen and Teresa Darling, made up spots two and three. They were great cheerleaders too, but nobody could steal Tasha’s spotlight, not even her two blonde co-stars. Everyone at Harrow High referred to Tasha, Tally, and Teresa as the Triple Ts.
In middle school, they were legends. Now it’s my chance to join them.
The fourth returning cheerleader was Monika Rutherford. She was friendlier than the other three, but far less popular. With her olive skin and astounding height of six feet, she stood out like a sore thumb next to the three blondes. She served as a perfect spotter in the back of the pyramid because of her general size and strength.
If all four got spots on the team, then that only left two empty spots to be filled. Normally, I would have been optimistic about my chances of getting one of those spots, but again, there were factors making it nearly impossible. There was a junior girl named Ashleigh Westerfield, who’d been trying out for the squad every year since she was a freshman. This was the first year she actually had a shot of making it, and according to rumors, the coach was going to give her a sympathy vote and let her join the squad.
That left the one open spot. It should be mine, right? Wrong. Brittani Barlow, the bitch of the century and Principal Barlow’s daughter, was a freshman this year too, and she was trying out for the squad. Regardless of what anyone else thought, I knew that politics did matter, and there was no way the coach was going to turn down the principal’s daughter.
So, if the returning four got their spots back, Ashleigh got a sympathy vote, and Brittani took a spot because of her mother, then that left a total of zero spots for me. It was a sad reality and I should have been bummed, but I wouldn’t go down without a fight.
I was hoping that, by some miracle, I could beat out the returning four, Ashleigh, or Brittani. And as though my odds of beating out the veterans weren’t bad enough, I also had to contend with several other freshmen girls who were going to show up for tryouts today. There was my best friend, Sydney Hargreaves, and my arch nemesis, Genevieve McDermott. And last, but not least, Genevieve’s catty best friend, Mariella Martin.
Stepping down from the bus, I smoothed my skirt nervously, approaching a swarm of buzzing new freshman. Boys and girls were gathered in the courtyard of Harrow High, primly pressed and dressed to the nines. The building itself was a gray, one-story, flat-roofed rectangle that sat smack dab in the middle of town. Nothing special, really. But inside that boring blob of a building lay the key to my hopes and dreams, and even if it was childish, I secretly walked with my fingers crossed. My odds of making the team were slim to none, but I couldn’t help feeling a teeny tiny glimmer of hope.
The nervous ball of anxiety in the pit of my belly made it look elephantine. Who knew high school would be this intimidating?
Taking a deep breath, I made a beeline for the front door, keeping my head down low, with one foot in front of the other.
“What’s up, Dakota?” a boy named Ricki shouted. I wasn’t popular—not by any means. But when you grow up in a town this small, everybody knows your name.
“Hi.” I smiled at him and a few other girls I recognized.
I pushed my way through the heavy glass doors and began the short hike to my first period of the day, Biology.
Brrrrrrrring! There’s the bell! Showtime!
I dove into a seat in the back, tossing my backpack under the chair. Although I tried to focus on the genial-looking, middle-aged teacher leaning against the desk up front, my gaze was already darting back and forth, eager to pinpoint a clock on the wall. Tryouts seemed so far away…
Class had just begun, but the clock’s ticking heartbeat punched the air, resonating in my head rhythmically. Tick tock, it mocked me.