Wattpad informed me they'd chosen CICADA for promotion along with the movie THE 5TH WAVE! With my approval, they placed the adorbs 5th Wave sticker on the cover (temporarily during the promo) and have placed my book in the "A Modern Day Setting with Out of This World Occurrences" reading list. I think this is pretty cool. Don't you?
Death on Paradise Creek is a murder mystery seasoned with heartbreak, adventure, a little romance, and a touch of humor. It is the first in a planned three book series.
The Paradise Creek Inn is open for business in rural Wilbarger County Texas. Business is slow except for the occasional parties for family or friends, until a prestigious actor becomes stranded on the property. Suddenly Lizzie Fletcher and her family are booking parties and events left and right – a dream come true.
Things quickly change when the hired hand makes a gruesome discovery. Sheriff Wade Adams and his team are called to investigate. While evidence is being analyzed, another body is discovered. Long kept secrets revolving around these discoveries begin to unravel.
Death on Paradise Creek is a 60,929 word, 205 page murder mystery set in Wilbarger County Texas.
Lizzie woke Saturday morning to the smell of coffee brewing. She hadn’t realized how much she missed waking up to that smell. She always had coffee after she got to work. She went downstairs to find Ellen and Lois sitting at the kitchen table.
“Good morning, Mama. Good morning, Granny,” she said as she planted a kiss on each woman’s cheek. “Where’s Daddy?”
“He had to get started moving the cattle to the east pasture. He said he’d be missing a lot of work since we’ll be in town for Jan’s festivities later this week,” Ellen explained.
“Lizzie, sit down; I want to talk to you about something,” Lois said.
“Okay. It sounds like something serious Granny.”
“Well, it is in a way. Is your job in Chicago the kind of job you always dreamed about?”
“No, it isn’t. It’s a work my way up the ladder and pay my dues kind of job.”
“Would you still like to run your own inn?”
“That has always been my dream, but I don’t see it happening anytime soon.”
“Alright then. I have a proposition for you. I’m getting too old to live in that great big house all alone. You’re parents and I have been talking about this, and we want to see what you think. We’ll turn the house over to you. You can renovate it and make it into the inn you’ve always dreamed of owning.”
“Now, let me finish,” Granny interrupted.” I’ll move in here with James and Ellen. You’ll manage the inn. I’ll fund the renovations, within reason mind you. Your parents and I will help when you need it. The old place needs fixing up anyway, and I see no reason to fix it up only for one old lady. It will become a family business.” Granny paused for a moment, and then said, “Well what do you think?”
Lizzie didn’t know what to say. She wanted to jump at the chance to design and run her own inn.
Dianne Smithwick-Braden is a native Texan raised in rural Wilbarger County on the family farm. She is a graduate of Vernon High School and West Texas A & M University. She currently resides in Amarillo, Texas with her husband, Richard. She has been a high school science teacher in Amarillo since August of 1990.
Dianne is an avid reader of fiction but murder mysteries are by far her favorite genre. Death on Paradise Creek is her first novel. She has already begun work on a sequel.
If you're a Texas blogger interested in joining the ranks of Lone Star Book Blog Tours, contact Tabatha Pope.
THE NEPTUNE CHALLENGE
(sequel to the award-winning The Neptune Project)
Genetically engineered to survive in the ocean, Nere and her friends are recovering from their long, treacherous journey to refuge and settling in at Safety Harbor. Despite its name, plenty of dangers still lurk just outside the colony's boundaries. When two among them are kidnapped, the remaining Neptune kids and their loyal dolphins must set out on a mission even more perilous than their first: infiltrate the kidnapper's fortress to save their friends and steal away a vital scientific secret that may save the world and its oceans. Fighting terrifying mutated creatures and teens, will the Neptune kids find a way to save their friends, themselves, and their underwater world? The stakes couldn't be higher in this thrilling sequel to the award-winning The Neptune Project.
Our Safety Harbor inlet is calm this morning. Small swells lift and lower me gently. Already the sky overhead is starting to gray, and clouds along the horizon blush pink and red. I can just make out the hardy spruce trees that cling to sharp outcroppings along the shore. The morning is quiet except for the rush of the nearby surf and the cry of a gull winging its way across the dawn sky.
Mariah, the leader of my family’s dolphin pod, finds me bobbing on the swells. Her little calf, Tisi, swims a tight circle around me while her daughter Sokya rushes up and flips water in my face.
“What worries you this morning?” Mariah asks as she cranes her head out of the water so she can see me better. At forty, Mariah is a grandmother several times over. Her teeth are a little worn, and her right side is scarred by an old shark bite, but her eyes are still bright with intelligence. Mariah is also amazing at reading my moods.
“There’re so many people at Safety Harbor,” I try to explain while I rub Sokya’s favorite spot, in front of her dorsal. The slick, rubbery feel of her skin is familiar and comforting. “And they all think Dad’s awesome and great at running things. I’m afraid they expect me to be just like him. That Janni girl wants me to join her Sea Rangers and help fight the Marine Guard and sharks, but I just want to work with dolphins.”
“You led us safely here through many fights and many miles of sea,” Mariah reminds me.
I wince, remembering the dangerous journey my friends and I had to make from the southern sector to reach my father’s colony. I hadn’t really led everyone here safely. Two of our group died on our trip to Safety Harbor, and we lost sweet Pani, one of Mariah’s granddaughters, all killed by Marine Guard divers sent by the Western Collective to capture or eliminate us.
“We never would have made it here without your help,” I say to Mariah.
“I helped the most,” Sokya declares. She leaps out of the water and lands on her side, dousing me with a wave.
Polly Holyoke is a former teacher and loves reading, camping, skiing, scuba diving and hiking in the desert. She lives in Plano, TX with three rescue dogs, two spoiled cats and a nice husband who tolerates piles of books all over their house. Her debut middle-grade novel,The Neptune Project, was published by Disney/Hyperion and was selected to the 2014-15 Texas Bluebonnet Master List along with state reading lists in Maryland and Ohio. It was also named one of Bank Street’s Best Children’s Books of 2014. Her second children’s book, The Neptune Challenge, was released May, 2015.
Using The Neptune Project and The Neptune Challenge in Schools
When I started working on The Neptune Project, I just wanted to write the kind of adventure story I loved to read when I was a girl. I had no idea that a book about a group of kids who had to survive in the sea would resonate with so many young readers or appeal so strongly to librarians and teachers all over the United States and other countries.
A former middle school teacher, I did know that I wanted to create a website where my readers could go and learn more about the ocean and the fascinating sea creatures that my heroine Nere and her friends encounter every day. So in the “cool stuff” section on my website, I have a gallery of marine life pictures which kids can download and use. I posted several links to cool dolphin and shark websites and developed a fun ocean Internet scavenger hunt and quiz.
After a Canadian teacher told me that she had taught a whole unit on The Neptune Project full of cross–curriculum activities, I decided I had to post educational materials for the book on my website. I worked with English and science teachers to create Common Core and Texas teachers’ guides for The Neptune Project. These include language arts, geography, math and science activities. Because both of my Neptune books are predicated on climate change, they can serve as good vehicles for discussions about global warming. I’m in the process of creating a teachers’ guide for The Neptune Challenge, and I hope to have it posted on my website sometime this fall.
My Neptune books are truly page turners, and their readability keeps surprising librarians. After I visit a school and talk about characters who can talk to dolphins and fight sharks and giant squid, librarians sell plenty of books during and after my visit. Even better, their students
actually read their books. I know junior high schools have used The Neptune Project successfully with boy reluctant readers, and I’ve met several ESL teachers who swear The Neptune Project was one of the most popular read alouds they’ve ever tried with their students.
I also love to visit schools. In my author assembly, I share with students the story of how I became I writer, and I encourage students to READ, WRITE, UNPLUG, and DAYDREAM. Because of my background in education, I’m also comfortable teaching writing workshops to students in third through eighth grades. These workshops are designed to help students do better on their state writing assessments. I also recently put together a program entitled “All About Dolphins,” that covers some basic science concepts like predator/prey relationships, habitat and characteristics of mammals for K-2 students. You can read more about my teaching materials and workshops at: www.pollyholyoke.com.
Although I originally meant to write a fun adventure story about a shy girl who becomes a hero, I’m thrilled that The Neptune Project is proving to be so useful in schools!
Here you can find a treasure box of information about the series, the sea, and writing. There is information for school/group visits, use in the classroom (including curriculum guides), and links for extended research.
You can contact Polly, and her publicist via the “contact” page.
Y'all, I can tell you first-hand that these books are awesome! I'm reading The Neptune Project even as we speak. Holyoke's gift of storytelling is captivating! So, leave a comment and let me know what you think. Will you be picking up a copy of The Neptune Project or The Neptune Challenge?
Texas summers are no doubt some of the hottest you'll find. The heat encountered during this summer is not at all what Taylor bargained for. She's at a crossroads between childhood and womanhood, rummaging through the emotions of first love versus passion. Two young men tangle a web of needs and desires in her heart. The summer before college begins, Taylor is thrust from her childhood home in Houston to an inherited family farm on the outskirts of Schulenburg, Texas. Eric, her first love, has gone states away to play college football. Low-spirited and merely trying to get through an expectantly boring summer, she is nearly run off the road by her new country neighbor, Maxwell. Ruggedly handsome, devilishly charming and everything Taylor seeks to avoid, Maxwell does something to her emotions she's struggling desperately to interpret, as they spend the summer filled with each other. Boundaries are tested and the scales of lust tip despite hesitations. A final decision must be made. Did she ever truly love Eric? Is Maxwell simply a lustful thought, or is there more to uncover beneath the surface? One thing is for certain, this summer will change Taylor in every possible way: mind, body and soul.
Against the quiet that’s consumed the entire run, a loud rumble a short distance away instantly distracts me. Hearing the annoyingly loud noise quickly approach, I step to the roadside just as a large, lifted white pickup truck flies past, sending dust in every direction. What the hell? I cough as the dust lifts, ready to shoot a middle finger into the air and choose a few colorful words for whatever jackass has just passed, when the truck comes to a halt with lit lit-up brake lights. Oh hell. This isn’t good. Abduction comes to mind as the truck slowly backs up in my direction. Should I run? Would Judge attack if I needed him to? My heart is beating gigantic palpitations in my chest. The truck slows to a stop so the tinted window of the driver’s side is even with me, then rolls down, emitting the sound of some twangy country song—Silver Wings I think—that’s playing on the radio. The driver is now visible, and I am startled by an unexpectedly good-looking guy, slightly older than me, by the looks of him. He has a wide, all-pristine-teeth grin, dark blonde, yet sun-kissed, hair cut short but a bit unruly, and rich, dark eyes with flecks of hazel in them. “Hi there, pretty lady.” ,” The the stranger speaks with a rugged voice and a sultry drawl. I don’t know whether to read him the riot act for his crazy, asinine driving, or stare in awe at his surprisingly handsome features. I decide on the smartass route. “What the hell is your basic malfunction? You could’ve creamed me if I hadn’t heard you coming.” Judge sits calmly at my side, but perks up his ears with the sudden raise in my voice. “Whoa, sassy.” He lifts his hands above his head as if under arrest. “I apologize, young lady. It’s not everyday people decide to take a walk on these country back roads.” He returns his hands to the steering wheel. I quickly glance over the vehicle, noticing a large, black, duffel-like bag in the back of the truck. It makes me nervous. “What is that?” I point at the black bag peeking out of the bed of the truck. “What?” He looks surprised. “Why don’t we just start with, Hi, my name is Maxwell Bara, Max to most. Yours?” I feel slightly—slightly—bad for my ill manners, so I momentarily reciprocate. “Taylor.” I strive to give away no hint of emotion, feeling my lips struggle to hold a hard line and not shift into a smile. “Oh, she has a name…Taylor. Beautiful name.” He grins, again revealing his salacious smile. “Boy, you come on strong, don’t you, Maxwell?” I try hard to hold my ground. “Like I said, most people call me Max, but Maxwell works, too.” He presses his lips together. I can see he’s not accustomed to his full name, and it beckons my devious side. “Well, Maxwell, would you like to answer my question?” I point again to the back of the truck. “Oh, the bag again.” He glances back at it and then to me, and offers a mischievous grin. “That’s where I hide the bodies.” ,” he half laughs, half acts serious. “Huh?” I don’t know how to take his answer, shifting my attention once again to Judge. “Well, this is my dog, Judge. He’s very protective, so you may want to steer clear.” I, of course, announce this as Judge rolls over on the ground to have his belly rubbed. Lovely timing, Judge. “Uh, huh….terrifying. But he’s a good-looking dog anyway.” Max props himself up slightly to see Judge out of the passenger window. After taking a gander at my dog’s antics, his eyes travel the length of my body before meeting mine.
Beth Ann is a wife, mother, blogger, and book lover from Texas. Her passion is writing stories that draw readers into a world where they become the characters and experience a gamut of emotions. When she's not writing, she loves to be at home with her family and two yellow labs. In addition, she's a sucker for super-sappy romance movies, loves trying out Texas wines, is an avid hot tea drinker, and enjoys checking items off of her ever-growing bucket list.