Sunday, April 18, 2010

Asking For Trouble; So Over My Head

Asking For Trouble

Book One: London Confidential Series

Sandra Byrd
Savvy is a unique but relatable character. She has traits that any girl can identify with and insecurities that we all have experienced ... I found it to be a comforting reminder that no matter what happens, God will be right there to love and to guide us along the way."

– Dominique McKay, Lily Girls Magazine
When her family moves to London, 15-year-old Savvy Smith has to make her way in a new school and in a new country. She just knows the school newspaper is the right place for her, but she doesn't have the required experience and the cute editor-in-chief is not looking to train anyone. She has to come up with a way to prove herself and nab the one available position on the newspaper staff at Wexburg Academy.

I hung back at the doorway to the cafeteria of my new supercool British school, Wexburg Academy. Most of the lunch tables were already packed and chattering. The populars, whom I'd secretly nicknamed The Aristocats commanded an entire table right in the center of the room. Their shiny hair and posh accents made up the sun around which all other tables orbited. The normal kids were in the second circle, arranged by friends or clubs or activities. The drama kids table was on the outside of the room, with the geeks, the nerds and the punk wannabees, way out there like Neptune and Pluto, but still planets. Most everyone had a group. I didn't.

Okay, so there was one table with lots of room. The leftovers table, otherwise known as the dark side of the moon. Unseen and unknown.

No way.

I skipped lunch – again - and headed to the library. One of the computers was open and I logged in, desperately hoping for an email from Seattle.

An email from my grandmother reminding me to floss because British dentists only cleaned adult teeth.

Spam from Teen Vogue.

An invitation to join the Prince Harry fan club – I opened and saved that one as a favorite. I'd consider it later.


I clicked open the email from my best friend at home – well, it had been my home till a few months ago – hoping for a lunch consisting of a meaty email full of juicy news served alongside tasty comments of how she missed me and was planning stuff for my next visit home. I craved something that would take me the whole lunch period to read and respond to and remind me that I did have a place somewhere in this universe.

Ephemera: Email from Jen to Savvy

Hey, Fortune Cookie, so how's it going? Met the queen yet? LOL. Sorry I haven't written too much. It's been so busy. Samantha took the place you'd been promised on the newspaper staff. L She's brand new, like you would have been. But she'll do okay – maybe even better than okay. And hey, life has changed for everyone, right? Things are crazy busy at school, home, and church. Now that some of our friends are driving our social life is swinging too. Will write again in a few weeks.
Miss you! Jen

A few weeks!? My lungs filled with air and I let it out slowly, deflating like a balloon with a slow leak. I poised my hands over the keyboard to write a response but just…couldn't. What would I say? It'd already been weeks since we'd last emailed. Mostly my friends texted instead of emailing anyway, but texting across the Atlantic Ocean cost way too much. And the truth was…
I'd moved, and they'd moved on.

I logged out of the email and sat there for a minute, blinking back the tears. Jen hadn't meant to forget me. I was simply out of her orbit now.

I pretended to read Sugar magazine online, staring at the clock, passing the time till I could respectably head to my next class.

Five minutes before class I swung my book bag onto my shoulder and headed down the hall. Someone was stapling fliers to the wall. I recognized her. "Hi Hazelle."

"Hullo, Savannah." She breezed by me, stapling another pink flier further down the wall. We had math class together, oh yeah, the Brits said, maths, first period. I'd tried to make friends with her; I'd even asked her if she'd like to sit together in lunch, but she'd crisply informed me that she sat at the table with the other members of the newspaper staff.

She didn't bother with small talk now, either, but went on stapling down the hall. I drew up next to one of the fliers, glancing at my watch. I wouldn't have time to read it all now, but one sentence caught my eye right away: Looking for one experienced journalist to join the newspaper staff.

I yanked the flier off the wall and jammed it into my bag. I was experienced. Wasn't I?
A nub of doubt rose inside me, the one that popped up, unwelcome, any time I was going to try to rationalize a lie or sin.

This time, I swallowed it back. I thought back to Jen's loving-but-slightly-kiss-off email. I lived in London now.

It was time to take matters into my own hands.

Please visit Sandra at to view this series and her other books for tweens, teens, and adults

Do Not Reproduce without permission
* * *
So Over My Head, book three in the YA series A Charmed Life
By Jenny B. Jones

Thomas Nelson
When the Fritz Family Carnival makes its annual appearance in Truman, Bella's keen reporter instincts tell her the bright lights hide more than they reveal. Her suspicions are confirmed when one of the stars is murdered. Though the police make an immediate arrest, Bella doubts this case is quite that simple.

She needs her crime-solving boyfriend Luke more than ever, but his ex has moved back to town, giving Bella some murderous thoughts of her own. Then again, there's no time for a relationship crisis when Bella's doing her best to derail her father's wedding while keeping the peace at home and staying one step ahead of a killer.

Chapter Two

"Just take deep breaths, Bella. Deep breaths."

I don't know how sticking your head between your knees and staring at your own crotch is supposed to help anything, but here I am. Trying not to pass out. Trying not to bawl uncontrollably.

Mark Rogers, friend and member of the Truman PD, pats my back as we sit on the arena bleachers. The rest of the police force combs through Betty the Bearded Lady's trailer. I've already answered a hundred questions, and I have a feeling that's the tip of the iceberg. Why me, God? How will I ever get that image out of my mind? All that blood.

My breath hitches and Mark does more patting. "Think nice thoughts." Tonight his voice is as high pitched as a flute. "Go to your happy place."

"I thought I was at one. Then I saw a dead woman." I want this to be one of those too-

realistic dreams you wake up from. The kind that makes you happy to be awake, realizing it was all just a vivid dream, and you are safely tucked in bed.

I hear the crunching of a wrapper and raise up. Mark sticks half a Snickers in his mouth.

"What?" His eyes go wide. "I'm a stress eater. Want some?"

My stomach does some acrobatics at the thought of food. "You have no idea what you're doing here, do you?"

"Not every day I see a bearded lady kill herself." He eats the last bite. "Seriously, that is some freaky stuff in there. The only dead body I've ever seen was my Great Uncle Morty. And he was ninety-six, so it wasn't a real shocker that he went, you know? He keeled over at the nursing home square dance. He just did one too many Do-si-dos. But still—" he shivers—"he was awfully pale and wrinkly. Kinda cakey looking."

"Thanks for sharing." I cover my face with my hands and rock back and forth. Mark's hand plops on my head. "Stop patting me!"

"Excuse me." He sniffs. "It works on my schnauzer."


At that familiar voice, I stand up. "Luke." He walks past two cops, and I run straight into his arms.

"Shhh." He holds me close, and I breathe in the scent of him. His shampoo, his cologne, the smell of his clothes. Him.

"Please don't leave me."

"I'm not going anywhere." He caresses the back of my head, and I hang on like he's my lifeboat off the Titanic. "Your mom and Jake are on their way. They left as soon as Mark called them. It's just going to take them a little bit from Oklahoma City."

My stepdad Jake's on the road a lot with the wrestling circuit, and Mom goes whenever he's close. Why couldn't he have been in Philly or Phoenix tonight? Seeing a dead woman definitely qualifies as one of those moments a girl needs her mother.

"She died. . . in her pie." My breath hitches. "Why would someone kill her and let her die in her meringue?"

"I don't know." Luke's voice is calm, reassuring.

"It was good pie, too."

"I'm sure it was, Bel."

I sniff on his shoulder. "If I die over pie, I want it to be coconut cream."

"She's a little shocky," Officer Mark says. Like I'm not right here. Like I'm talking crazy. But who, I ask, would want their last breath to be taken nose deep in raisin pie? Or a meat pie. It would be my luck I'd go in a big `ol bowl of peas.

Luke steps back, keeping his hands locked with mine. "Do you think you can tell me about tonight?"

"I'd like to know, too." A girl in a sparkly leotard appears. Her hair is blonde, slicked back into a ponytail. Though she still wears stage makeup, her face is pale. Her eyes haunted.

"This is Cherry Fritz," Mark says. "She's the owner's niece."

"This was my parents' circus." Watery eyes meet mine. "Betty was my Godmother. After my parents' accident, she let me live in her trailer." As she steps closer I can see she doesn't look quite so harsh beneath the makeup. "Do you think she—she. . .suffered?" Cherry's tears inspire some of my own.
"I don't know. It didn't really look that way." Except for the sword the length of my leg sticking out of her back. "She did have dessert, if that's any consolation." Wow. My ability to comfort is just. . . awful.

"Betty didn't have any enemies. I just don't understand. There has to be some mistake." Cherry turns to Officer Mark. "Who would m-murder her?" Tears make tracks down her painted face.

"We'll get to the bottom of it." Mark clears his throat. Probably has a peanut stuck in there.

"Cherry!" The ringmaster roars explodes through the big top entrance. "Where have you been? We have a killer on the loose, and I couldn't even find you!"

I move closer to Luke as Red Fritz's piercing brown eyes land on me.

"You the one who found her?"

"Um. . ." I swallow past a lump and nod. "Yes."

The seconds stretch as he watches me. I look away, my skin tingling.

"Well, I'm sorry you had to see that." Red stands beside Mark. "We are a family here at the Fritz and Family Carnival. And I can't imagine who would do such a vile thing. Surely it can't be one of our own, that much I know."

Officer Mark jots down some notes. "Mr. Fritz, Miss Betty's trailer will obviously be unusable for a while. Will the children be staying with you?"

"My son Stewart lives with me in my own trailer, so space has always been too tight for the kids. I've contacted a distant family member in Truman to take Cherry until she can move back into Betty's."

Ew. Like she'll ever want to live in the place where their godmother killed herself.
Copyright 2010.

So Over My Head by Jenny B. Jones can be found at , , , and fine bookstores everywhere. As well as the trunk of her grandmother's Buick.
You can visit Jenny at

Find her on Twitter: JenBJones

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