Amanda M Thrasher is the founder of PROGRESSIVE RISING PHEONIX PRESS as well as being a sought after Children’s (MISCHIEF IN THE MUSHROOM PATCH) and young adult author (THE GREENLEE PROJECT). I wanted to have her be a guest on KAREN WRITES MURDER as well as her recent appearance on WRITERS ROUND TABLE (Blogtalk radio) last week. On my radio show, you shared the origins of your fairy stories. Can you share that touching anecdote with my readers here?
Can you share what experiences you had in the publishing world that led to establishing PROGRESSIVE RISING PHOENIX PRESS?
Great question! Publishing, none. Author, several years. What separated or separates us from other presses our size is the advice that we sought out, follow and now receive from experienced individuals that consult us on a daily basis.
Is this a one woman show or do you have a partner in crime at PRPP?
I truly believe it takes teamwork to make any company/organization a success. Finding the right team is key; when you find it, you protect it, work together and keep it strong. If you have elements that aren’t right, you remove them and keep the pieces that work in tact.
Long story short, it originally started when I pulled my titles from another publisher, hired a friend (artist, and fellow author) to create a logo and set up my titles for me under my own imprint. Knowing, as I still do, representation in this business is critical. I knew that authors as a whole couldn’t keep up the pace that I was working under my old publisher 16 hr days, speaking all day, signing at night. There had to be a better way. That was part of my discussion with one of the friends. During design time, we discussed how neat it would be to create a company that operated as a publisher should, but truly benefited authors.
I remember looking him straight in the eye, we were sitting in my kitchen, I had another designer there who was building my website. My exact words were, “We could do it, start an actual company.” He stopped working. His eyes lit up. And then I said, “Why not? Why not create a business that we’d like to represent us?” He shrugged his shoulders and agreed, there was no reason why we couldn’t. Moreover, we did. We started PRPP. (Originally Rising Phoenix Press, but when we went to file the name that name, Rising Phoenix was taken, thus Progressive Rising Phoenix Press). We went about setting everything up. Relaying all the books first, setting up the site, getting ready to legally file the DBA’s, etc., Somewhere in there we had a conversation with my current business partner. Jan, she’s in IL. I’m in TX. She showed a desire in leaving the same publisher that I had been with and doing what we were doing. I am glad that she did; we work really well together, know our roles, and have gotten a lot done. My original partner, had too much on his plate, work, family, church and other commitments. We refiled all of our docs. and between the two of us, (two owners), multiple contractors, a paid marketer, proofers, an Acquisition Editor, and the experienced people that advise us daily, we’ve grown so much. We have soft cover, hardcover with dust jacket, library bound, ebook, print globally etc. I cannot think of a single day that we have not learned something new in this industry. We continue to learn and in July will visit our Account Manager in TN (LSI/Ingram) tour the print plant, go over our account and exciting new options that are now available to us.
What inspired you to write Greenlee’s story?
Bullying is tragic, especially in today’s environment. It is different today due to the technology that kids have access to and can hold in their hands. I was horrified by Amanda Todd’s case years ago and devastated by the kids that kill themselves daily due to words or images that go viral via through social media. (Hoping statistics are decreasing, but I’m not sure).
I specifically remember watching a case where a 14-year-old teen, convicted for bullying, was having her sentence adjusted for not showing enough remorse for her act. This pleased the jurors, and I get that, but it also broke my heart. I remember thinking, that kid, criminal right there, is fourteen. She’s not getting it. Yes she should care, and no she should not have done the brutal things that she did, but she’s
F O U R T E E N. Everyone acted as if she were twenty-one. It killed me. Her life is ruined. The kid she hurt, her life is ruined. Both families, their lives ruined. Communities, schools, likely a church, in ruins. Standing there, in the courtroom, she didn’t have a clue. It’s possible she didn’t even know how to show the remorse that they were demanding and asking her to demonstrate in the courtroom that day. *DOESN’T MAKE IT RIGHT.* Being a mother of tweens at the time, I wondered if she was thinking, the girl was mean to me first. Alternatively, the girl said such and such to me. I could be wrong; she may have said, “What the hell, I want to go home. What did I do that everyone else isn’t doing? This our generation, w h a t?????” I hear many kids say such things these days.
Between the media, crap entertainment, stuff that kids/teens do on utube for likes and popularity, technology, Iphones, Ipads, etc. many kids/teens have proven they are desensitized to feeling empathy for others. Words used or texts sent to hurt people are just a daily part of their way to get back at or hurt someone that has ticked them off or doesn’t fit in.
I absolutely do not agree with the girls behavior, but I wondered if anyone ever said to themselves that kid is fourteen. Fourteen! A kid. How did this happen? How did a fourteen-year-old push a kid so far, this happened? *Please do not misunderstand, I am not under any circumstances saying bullying is ever acceptable.
I was inspired to write The Greenlee Project to show both sides of the bullying act. Emotionally and physically; the victim and the bully. That included writing about their entire circles, family, and friends. Proving that even great kids can get caught up in the circle of victimizing and bullying when their thirst for acceptance overrides their common sense. Most importantly I dove into Greenlee’s life and how the handled the act of being bullied and ultimately how that act caused her life to unravel rapidly. How Greenlee chose to deal with it, emotionally and how it affected everyone around her, I think is a message worth sharing. I truly do. Being the author, it is one of those things that people do not always believe you because you wrote the book. But I honestly, with every ounce of my being, think there is a message in this book for tweens and teens. This book broke my heart to write; research, people I worked with, tears at my desk. No kidding. But I love it, and I don’t love all my pieces.
Will we see more from that group of characters?
I think it is inevitable. I do not believe my work there is done. I understand Laurel appears to have gotten away with it, for now, but she was a high school kid. I know what made Laurel a nasty brat 🙂 that might be exposed. Whose to say she’ll have an easy life? Then there’s Greenlee’s work; not to mention Clay. So yes, I see it in my future. If this company will cooperate.
You are such a busy woman. What does a day in the life of Amanda M. Thrasher look like?
Not pretty. Not enough coffee. (I’ll list because it will be easier).
Coffee – check first round of email (personal Author Amanda M. Thrasher Mail
Run my daughter to school (more coffee) – in the car, daily conference call with my business partner. It is a 40 min drive (there and back). So we discuss the daily what we’re doing, production, contractors, where we’re at in the process of each one. Any new developments regarding changes or requests with the files. (We’re on Digital Certification, so it’s imperative that every single file is 100% clean).
Check in with authors and or contractors that are working on said pieces, we usually have multiple at one time. THIS DESPITE OUR RULE OF ONE BOOK AT A TIME…..NEVER WORKS.
Review new submissions (I rarely open unless they absolutely jump out at me or we’re slow). If we have down time, I’ll open. Or I’ll file. If they’re awesome, I’ll send to our Acquisitions Editor for review.
Check any book orders, see whose placing, me or Jan. Not sure whose in box it hit first. Vendor, Retailer, Author, School.
New authors coming on board; answer questions, review the process – this we’ve tried to slow down- but I still get questions daily.
Go for a run. – 40 – 45 minutes. My thinking time (yay, shower) 🙂
Answer Work Email – CEO stuff. – Handle it.
Check in with my Social Media Marketing Person/ Alicia / Go over her list or what she has coming in
Send out review books, if we have requests (the other day, 14 went out)
Make posts, if possible Author Amanda M. and PRPP
Write PR if we have PR going out / National / New releases or special events etc.
There are days I have meetings with representatives from organizations such as Girls and Boys Club or Librarians, vendors or I speak at schools, writing workshops or speak at conferences.
Somewhere in there I feed and pick up my kids. (Pay bills, every now and then remember to eat).
I am certain I’m missing some things, writing letters and marketing packages on behalf of our authors. Filling out applications and applying for things such as Ingram Complete, Awards that only publishers can send out on behalf of their authors, Conferences such as TLA, takes a long time to prepare, just items that can only be done by the publisher. Authors can’t do it, even if they wanted to. Takes time.
Sometimes ….not enough….I manage a blog, and occasionally time to write. *This has been the down side of what we do.* But we are trying really hard to stabilize everything so that we do get our writing time back. It is wonderful feeling, as an author, when people call and ask you to come and sign. I have 3 events coming up, two at Barnes and Noble, and one at a Library. This reminds me that my work, writing work, counts.
I DO NOT WANT TO LOSE MYSELF IN THIS COMPANY. It is not why we started it. Not what I want. I want a home for the authors that we represent, including myself, to be represented and branded properly so they can be as successful as possible in this publishing/book environment.
About Amanda M. Thrasher
Multiple Award Winning Author Amanda M. Thrasher was born in England, moved to Texas and resides there still. Author of several children’s books including picture books, middle-grade chapter books, YA and even a reader’s theater titled What If… A Story of Shattered Lives. She conducts workshops, writes a blog and contributes to an online magazine. As Chief Executive Officer of Progressive Rising Phoenix Press, she assists authors with their work and shares her writing process and what she has learned as a publisher with people of all ages. She’s a multiple Gold recipient of the Mom’s Choice Awards for The Greenlee Project, YA and General Fiction, and for Spider Web Scramble, a Mischief book.
Amanda’s work is available where all books are sold including Amazon, Barnes and Noble.com or click on the links below.
EXCERPT: The Greenlee Project Copyright © 2014 Amanda M. Thrasher
Chapter 1 – Greenlee
I’d rather be dead than climb those steps! Greenlee thought,
staring at the concrete that would lead to her final bout of
humiliation. It was a given that life, at least as she knew it, was
over! Why had this happened to her? She stared up at the looming
dark doors of Aubrey Marcus High School. They were not a very
welcoming sight, and despite her best efforts, her feet simply
would not move.
Greenlee Lynn Granger by name, designated project by
default. A ruined teenager and barely a teenager at that! Fourteen
years old, just a normal girl, not one of the beautiful people in
high school, but popular enough, if only in her mind. She wasn’t
as tall as she’d like, but hopeful that she’d have a growth spurt
soon. With the usual multicolored wire-wrapped teeth, dishwater
blond hair that she couldn’t do a thing with, and big brown eyes,
Greenlee Granger was just another average girl living in suburbia.
Well, until now.
She’d managed to dodge Marianne, her best friend, on the
north side of the school. Greenlee wasn’t in the mood to talk, not
even to her. She sat down on the bottom step of the stairs that led
into the school, wrapped her arms around herself, and blinked
away the tears that had welled up in her eyes. Wiping her face,
she made a split-second decision to leave the school premises.
Greenlee gathered up her backpack and the jacket that her mom
had insisted she carry, and headed back toward the street. The
consequences of this decision never crossed her mind. She left the
grounds as quickly as she could. It would merely be a matter of
time before the rumors, innuendo, and the never-ending questions
were asked, followed by the incessant phone calls. In her heart,
Greenlee wasn’t ready to face the world. Not yet.
“You have to get it over with, sweetheart. It’s your first time
back since all of this happened. It will take a little time, but we
talked about this, remember?” Greenlee’s mom had said that
morning. When her mom’s so-called words of wisdom ran through her
mind, all she thought was how much they sucked! Her pace
picked up as she replayed her mom’s unsound advice over again.
It wasn’t that simple, Greenlee’d tried to explain. This was
terrible! Her mom had offered to drive her to school that morning
and to discuss her first day back with the principal, but Greenlee
had been horrified at her mother’s suggestion. The image of her
mom walking her down the hallway in front of everyone was too
much and Greenlee burst into tears again.
“Seriously,” Greenlee had objected. “That’s a terrible idea. I
can’t do that. They’ll hate me even more than they already do!”
She softened her voice and said, “Mom, just please don’t make
me go back yet. I don’t think I’m quite ready for this. Not yet.”
But despite her objections, her mom pointed her toward the door.
“You have to do this, you have to be strong and stand up for
yourself. Do this for yourself. It’s what you wanted.” Mrs.
Granger had walked over and kissed her daughter on top of her
“Greenlee, you’ve come so far. We’re so proud of you. You
don’t realize it yet, but this, baby, it’s the last step.” She’d hugged
her and spun her around toward the door. “Greenlee, this is it,
you’ve got to do this!” her mother had declared as if it was nothing.
Greenlee’s eyes had been brimming with tears and she could
hardly look at her mom. This would be the last and most painful
step in this impossible situation that Greenlee would ever take.
Her mom’s heart had sunk as the tears had streamed down her
“I really, really think I should go with you,” her mother had
said, but she knew as soon as the words had left her mouth that
Greenlee would object, and she had been right. Greenlee had
shaken her head and left for school. Why her mom didn’t allow her
to stay home one more day and wallow in self-pity, she didn’t really know.
Curling up into a ball and shutting out the world was the only thing that appealed to
her. Bed-she wanted to go back to bed, and pretend that none of
this had ever happened. Greenlee knew that this was impossible.
She’d come too far for that. She would have to face them, all of
them, and then it would be done.
Students were rushing by her, gesturing and whispering as
they headed into school. Greenlee pretended that she didn’t hear
them, remaining silent. The snickers, stares, and fingerpointing
were brutal. She scurried like a mouse, moving as fast as she
could through the maze of students. I’m pathetic, she thought. I’ve
become absolutely pathetic! Realizing that she had nowhere to go,
she continued to place one foot in front of the other, with no
particular destination in mind. Digging her hands deep into her
jean pockets, she felt a crisp dollar bill that she’d forgotten about.
Greenlee bent down and rummaged through her backpack. In a
tiny zipped-up pocket, she found a crumpled and worn five-dollar
bill. She managed to scrape up a few coins as well, with a
combined total of just over seven dollars for bus fare. Pulling her
pink hoodie up to cover her face, she walked down the street. Her
phone rang a familiar tune and made her jump. It was Marianne.
Greenlee didn’t answer it. She didn’t want to talk to her friend,
certainly not at this moment. Then the familiar beep indicated that
a voice-mail message was waiting. Surprising even herself,
Greenlee deleted the message without listening to it. Tears welled
up in her eyes again. She wiped them away with her sleeve, took a
deep breath, and continued down the street.
Excerpt – Chapter 7 -Greenlee
“Greenlee, where in the hell are you? We’ve been trying to
call you all day!” Matt Granger said.
He didn’t wait for her to respond and kept firing questions at
her one right after the other and immediately Greenlee felt that
she’d made a mistake.
“What are you playing at? Where are you? What are you
doing?” he asked with a slight hesitation. “Where have you
been?” After a pause, he said, “We’ve been worried sick!”
Breathing deeply, he continued, “Greenlee . . . Greenlee, where
are you now?”
Greenlee blurted out the first thing that came to mind. “Dad, I
don’t really know,” she said. “And if you don’t mind, I really
don’t want to talk about this right now!”
“You called me,” he snapped.
Her dad bit his lip, took another deep breath, and as calmly as
he possibly could in that particular moment said, “Greenlee, we’re
definitely going to talk about it; maybe not at this very second, but
you can rest assured that we will talk about it!”
“Dad, please, could you just come and get me? Please.”
Another slight pause and he could hear her exhale, “I don’t even
know where I am . . . I know you’re mad and disappointed in me,
but please, can you just come and get me?”
A combination of relief and fear swept over him with such
magnitude that he was forced to bat away his own tears. The
photo of Greenlee that sat on his desk didn’t help: all smiles,
sparkling eyes, and freckles across her cute button nose. It took
him back to the days when he’d lift her in his arms and swing her
around and around until she begged him to stop. He took a deep
breath and spoke as softly as he could without breaking down.
“I’m not mad at you, Greenlee,” he said softly, “or
disappointed in you. Don’t say that. But we will talk about this
and you know that we will!” He grabbed his jacket and his keys.
“I’m on my way. Don’t move from that spot and text me the street
“Don’t talk to strangers!” He slammed down the phone and
left his office.
As the air chilled, Greenlee realized that she was starving and
cold. She wondered if she should ask her dad to stop and grab her
a bite to eat, but given the circumstances, she figured it wasn’t the
best time to ask for a favor. She kept her head down, hoping to
avoid eye contact with the people on the street. She wasn’t used to
being in the city by herself, especially at that hour, and the hustle
and bustle of people that spilled onto the concrete made her
fearful. Fortunately no one was paying much attention to her, and
that brought her some comfort. She shivered as a gust of wind
blew through her body. Her hands clambered to grab her
sweatshirt and wrap it as tightly around herself as she could. She
continued to wait for her dad, who seemed to be taking too long.
In less than twenty-four hours she had gone from not wanting to
see her dad at all, to feeling relieved that he was finally pulling up
to the curb.
The car door opened and she slid into the front seat without
saying a word. Her dad asked her if she was hungry and Greenlee
nodded gratefully. He pulled into the first fast-food place they
came to and he ordered a burger and a large coffee. Handing her
the brown soggy bag, he continued driving home.
Greenlee spoke first. Her voice echoed with the sound of
distress, her pitch inconsistent, and she frantically tried to
compose herself to speak without trembling. It was impossible.
Reaching over, he grasped her hand. He never took his eyes off
the road and didn’t offer any kind words-his simple gesture was
enough. It was heartfelt, meaningful, filled with love and
compassion, and touched Greenlee beyond any words that he
could have chosen anyway. Gently he squeezed her hand in his,
and she tried to speak.
“I . . . I can’t go back there, Dad, I just can’t. I thought I
could,” she said as the tears flowed uncontrollably down her
cheeks. She swallowed, sucked in a gasp of air, exhaled, and tried
“The whole thing is just too unfreaking believable. I can’t
wrap my head around it. I still feel so stupid.”
She wasn’t hungry anymore but took another bite from her
half-eaten burger, chewed a moment too long, swallowed, and
looked at him as he continued to drive.
“I’m begging you, Dad, please, please don’t make me go
back there. I still need to do what I’m doing, just maybe
Her words and the tone with which she said them broke his
heart. He hurt for her. He was angry for her, angry at himself for
not having known, and furious with the kids who were involved.
His daughter! Terrible for anyone’s daughter, but it was his
daughter. Swallowing hard, he struggled to find the right words.
His voice sounded different than usual: shaky but soft, concerned,
but definitely filled with anguish. Greenlee studied his face for a
moment but was forced to turn away. Tears had filled her dad’s
eyes, and though it would have killed him to know, Greenlee felt
humiliation engulf her as she realized that she had inadvertently
brought her father to tears and caused him such pain.
“It was cruel and I still want to kill him, hurt him, and the
others for that matter,” Matt Granger said. “And of course I can’t
kill him. I’m angry, no, make that furious! I’m disgusted and mad
at myself for not protecting you.” He couldn’t look at her, but he
had to ask, “Greenlee, how did I not know?”
Greenlee put down the burger and whispered, “It’s easy, Dad,
I didn’t even know!”
The Greenlee Project Copyright © 2014 Amanda M. Thrasher