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Who do you trust?

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The first time dishonesty blindsided me was over a business deal with Pogs.

PogsPogs was a fad in the 90’s that involved stacking a pile of cardboard circles about the size of a half dollar and trying to make them flip over by chucking a metal Pog, called a slammer, at the pile. At the height of the fad, I was around ten years old. My favorite Pog was one that had, printed on the front, the character Death riding a tricycle singing the phase “A tisket, a tasket, a green and dead basket” or some other pearl of wisdom. That Pog alone was going to make me filthy rich, or so I thought.

Instead I was cheated by a kid only two years older than me.

When I was younger everything I owned that I liked had an inflated value. My favorite Wolverine comic wasn’t worth just a $1.75 (the sum that I paid), but at least ten times that if I had read the comic and thought it was especially good. My collection of comics alone was going to buy me my first car after they had appreciated in value over a few years, or so my pre-teen thinking went. Naturally, when I was running low on cash, selling off a few Pogs seemed like the best way to rake in the dough.

I set up for the event on the front lawn with a card table, strategically placing some of the lower valued vanilla-looking Pogs near the front next to the pizazz of the slammers. With bright eyes I sat for an hour waiting for the customers to appear. Surely the other kids would be attracted like a moth to a flamethrower. After a couple hours I began to wonder if setting up on the corner like a drug dealer and expecting a constant stream of customers was a bad idea.

But then my first, and what would be my only, customer arrived. He was smiling, and more important, he was excited by my merchandise. With quick hands he arranged his favorites on the table in front of him. Dollar signs dinged in my eyes with his arrangement. I was going to make like ten bucks! Cha-ching!

About this time one of my friends came over. Sadly he didn’t want to buy any Pogs from a neighborhood street vendor. He just wanted to play. We began to talk as my customer tried to make up his mind.

And then the boy tripped and sent half of the items to the grass. He apologized for his clumsiness and began picking them all up. When he was done he picked out one of the lowest priced pogs, plunked down his ten cents, and went away whistling. I sighed. It was time to close up shop. Two hours of waiting for ten cents didn’t seem worth it.

When the boy was long gone my friend thought it might be time to tell me that I had just lost ten of my best Pogs. With a little adolescent slight-of-hand my customer pocketed a few of his favorites while he was picking up the rest.

I still remember his smiling face as he placed the fallen Pogs back on the table, while, unknown to me, he was pocketing others.

The Smiling Villain

Sometimes I read books where the main character on a whim decides that the hottie in their biology class must be the most perfectTheVillainsSmile individual in the whole world. Even before they speak. And they continue to hold to this idea that there is nothing wrong with them even when they turn up the creep vibe. In a way I’m reminded a little of myself selling Pogs.

I believed nothing wrong. After all, I was going to hit the jackpot in sales. Even though he was the only customer I had had all day. The main characters in these stories want to believe weird behavior is normal, even stalking, borderline abusive jealousy, and breaking and entering is all justifiable. But sometimes not all that glitters is golden.

When I wrote Shadow Sport, much of it was discovery written, meaning I wasn’t sure where the characters were going to take me. And when Ember showed up on the scene, he seemed perfect. But somehow I knew there was something at work inside of him. Everything wasn’t as he portrayed. The pristine outside held something else in the middle. He was smiling, but I wasn’t sure what he was doing with his other hand.

Once I figured out what he was hiding, the real story of Shadow Sport appeared.

SHADOW SPORT IS ABOUT TRUST, AND IT’S ABOUT VAMPIRES, AND LEARNING TO FACE FEAR.

Shadow Sport Book 1

Shadow Sport Book 1

Shadow Sport is the story of a teenage girl, Vespa, whose father dies mysteriously. She is forced to move across the country to a tiny town on the Oregon coast called Lincoln City. Instead of finding a place to pick up the pieces of her life she finds bullies, parasitic cousins, and a sense of loss. Until she meets Ember.

On the surface he is definite boyfriend material—charming, cute, and intelligent. But also full of secrets. And the deeper Vespa involves herself in Ember’s life, the darker his secrets appear. Through the story she gets to learn that Ember is a vampire, but the other secrets he’s keeping are the type that will define him. Vespa finds herself caught in Shadow Sport—a vampire celebration that will answer all her questions and awaken new nightmares.

That is one of the reasons I wrote Shadow Sport. I wanted to find out what the smiling vampire was hiding and could he be trusted.

The problem with people’s motives is it isn’t plainly written on their faces. And some secrets aren’t sinister. Truth is, we all wear a mask. We put on a smile, although inside we may be feeling a thousand different things. Sometimes it can be a process to find who is a friend and who was only smiling on the outside. Sometimes it hurts to find that the smiling person was actually a villain.

And sometimes that journey to find someone you know and trust completely can be one exciting ride.

So, Who do you trust?

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