Saturday, November 14, 2015

20 Days of Tabor Heights -- Let the Games Begin!

Today we launch the countdown for the 20 Days of Tabor Heights.

It's a scavenger hunt.
It's a party.
It's a chance to learn about all 20 books in the Tabor Heights series, ending with book #20, the last book, coming out in December. Which book is that? You'll have to stick around and find out!

Every other day, we'll post RIGHT HERE the cover art and number for the book of the day.

You have until 10pm EST of the next day to find where that cover and number are posted online -- it could be Facebook, it could be several blogs -- and then contact me, stating where you found it.

Example: Today is the 14th. That means you
have until 10pm tomorrow, the 15th, to get your entry in. And when the next number and cover appear on the 16th, you have until 10pm on the 17th to get your entry in. And so on. Got it?

Go to the Contest page on my web site to see all the rules and the possible places to find the cover art and number.

Today is 20, and the book is THE SECOND TIME AROUND.


Dr. Daniel Morgan didn't believe in ghosts, so he didn't have an explanation for the vision that settled into the second seat, far left row, of his freshman theater history class on the first day of the fall semester. Fortunately, the auburn-haired freshman girl with Lynette Teague's face was one of the first into the room, so Daniel didn't stand there with his last two years at Northwestern University flashing through his mind while his new students sat and fidgeted and stared. He yanked himself back to the present, avoided looking at that part of the room, and pushed his heartbreak back into his memories for the duration of the first day lecture.

And the next three classes.

He retreated to his cramped, book-lined office in the basement of the theater arts building, and sat with his feet propped up on his desk, staring at the toes of his new sneakers -- always a new pair for the start of the school year -- trying to figure out what he felt.

"Morgan?" Bekka Sanderson, his student assistant, hung against the frame of his doorway, looking just as drained by the first-day-of-classes mayhem as he felt. Her belt-length straight brown hair had escaped the twistee that restrained it when she met him with his coffee and bagel at seven a.m. and helped him finish assembling the syllabi for all his classes. "You okay?" The fact that she called him Morgan rather than 'Dr. Morgan Sir' meant there were no emergencies or bombs ready to drop on him.

For that, he breathed a sigh of thankfulness to God.

"I just realized that it's been more than twenty years since I was in those kids' shoes." Daniel let his feet drop down to the cement floor. Bekka knew everything and everyone in the entire Humanities Department at Butler-Williams. What were the chances she would know the name of the girl in his first period class, with Lynette Teague's face and hair?

"Bekka?" an unfamiliar female voice called from out in the euphemistically labeled lobby of the theater department's office. It was more prop storage room and workspace than an area to lounge, and served as an auxiliary costume department for big productions.

"In here." Bekka turned and gestured. "Don't go scaring me, Morgan. The General is the one who gives us the 'I'm getting too old for this' routine just before auditions for the Christmas play. I'm the one who's too old to be playing psychologist for the whole department."

"You're my Gal Friday. Tell the General and Joel Randolph to keep their grimy--" Daniel stopped short as the girl from the first period class peered over Bekka's shoulder. He swallowed hard and put on his friendliest smile. "Hello. I hope you're not here to drop my class after one day."

The freshman girl laughed. He was relieved when that wasn't Lynette's musical laugh. Her hair, hanging nearly to the pocket of her shirt, was curlier than Lynette's straight auburn, a little darker, and her nose wasn't the tiny, up-tilted button that demanded kissing and always turned red with the first hint of autumn chill. "No way. It was the best part of the day."

"Because I was the only professor who didn't take roll call, you mean?"

"Uh... yeah." She shrugged, grinning, and that wasn't Lynette's smile. For which he thanked God again. "I'm Kat Tyler."

"Nice to meet you, Kat. Who's your advisor?"

"Dr. Defiore."

"You have to call him the General -- you're part of the theater gang now," Bekka said.

"You just missed him," Daniel added.

"I'm not here to see him," Kat said, and tipped her head in Bekka's direction.

"We're hitting the cafeteria for dinner. The food is fantastic at the beginning of the year," Bekka said. "Besides, you know how my grandparents are at the start of the term. I don't need another lecture over dinner on how I should be studying accounting, when I have homework for every single class already. We'd better run. See you tomorrow."

"Bright and early. Double chocolate muffin this time," Daniel added.

"Seig heil." Bekka saluted, two fingers off her eyebrow, and left with Kat, both girls laughing.

Daniel held onto his smile until he heard the wheeze of the ancient pneumatic door leading to the stairwell. Then he slouched in his chair and raked his fingers through his hair. He definitely felt old today.

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