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Title: MISS MANAGEMENT
Author: Traci Highland
Publisher: Cheshire Lane Press
Pages: 215
Genre: Romantic Comedy

Mags has gotten herself in a ton of trouble: she’s lost her job, any hope for references, and she’s going to run out of money…. fast.

Yeah, sure, it may be her fault for punching her boss, but the jerk totally had it coming.

Nobody listens to her until she reaches her boiling point, and by then, well, she’ll admit that there’s no stopping Mr. Fist To The Face.

Now her years of hard work as a speech therapist are about to go down the drain unless she can find some way to salvage her career. So when her Aunt Elise calls to say that she has a job for her, it’s not like she can say no, even if the job is up in the wilds of Vermont.

Between stuffed moose, sloppy dogs and sexy men, Vermont proves to be a lot more interesting than she expected. But when she uncovers a scheme that would put her new employers’ livelihood in jeopardy, more than just hydrangea bushes are about to get squashed.

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First Chapter

Nothing says Happy Friday like having Mr. Roth dribble crackers and sing La Cucaracha.  Nothing.

“Great job!  But let’s make sure to give those crackers an exaggerated swallow before the next stanza.  All right?”  I grab the paper cloth from the box and give his chin a wipe.

He stares at me with rheumatic eyes, pushing his whole damn heart into his smile.

“Your smile always makes my day, Mr. Roth.”  I pick the last remnant of saltine out of his gray stubble and throw the paper towel into the garbage.  When Mr. Roth first came to see me, the stroke had paralyzed the left side of his face.  The paralysis had diminished somewhat and now he can do things like smile.  And sing.  Sort of.

At least we fixed the swallowing.  That’s a biggie.  He exhales a barely audible bar of his favorite song and I join him.  “Make it louder for me!  La cucaracha!  La cucaracha!  Ya no puede caminar…”

His smile widens and his voice rises, like a phoenix, dammit.  That asshat Dr. Robbins said he’d never speak again.  And here Mr. Roth is, six months later, singing.

Days like this, I love my job.  Just as we’re about to finish up our session, Dolly pokes her head in the door. “I’m sorry, Mags, but Dr. Robbins says you’re going to have to keep it down.”

“Tell him to shut his damn door.”  That man exists to be the pain in my neck.  You know the pain, the one you wake up with every morning and no amount of Advil can kill?  That one.

“Was I too loud?”  Mr. Roth asks, worry crossing his cherubic, drooly face.

“No, angel.  Not a bit.  You’re a rock star and I’m damn proud of you.” One day I am going to open my own clinic, so naysayers like Dr. Robbins can learn to shut the hell up.

Dr. Robbins, the asshat, runs the clinic. So naturally, he feels that everything in the office is his, too, like, you know, the pretty nurses and speech pathologists that he employs.

Grabbing Mr. Roth’s arm, I help him with his jacket.  Dolly clicks the pen in her hand like it’s a hand grenade.  On off, on off, on off.

“Stop it,” I hiss to her as I grab Mr. Roth’s gloves.  “Now keep practicing those scales we talked about and I’ll see you next week.”

He squeezes my hand and then says to Dolly, “She’s a saint, this one.  A regular saint.”

His r’s don’t come out quite right but hey, it’s a work in progress.

The second he’s out the door, I walk over to the nurses’ station and pull up the electronic records on my next patient. I haul on down to room number six, where Mr. Earle is waiting for me to re-adjust his tracheal tube.

I reach for the handle and I’m blindsided by Susie, the intern.  She’s the best kind of intern, hard-working and wicked smart, and rather pretty in a cute, slightly disheveled kind of way.  She’s shaking as she bumps into me, wiping tears from her eyes.

“What’s wrong?” There can be lots of things wrong when you’re twenty-one.  Hormones and boozing and all that, but this looks… different.

“Nothing, I’m fine. Tracheal tube, right?”  She straightens her Hello Kitty scrubs and adjusts the chunky black-rimmed glasses, making sure the floating strands of pinkish hair stay behind her ears.

I open my mouth but the words just sort of dry up.  Sometimes, it’s best just to leave it.  She knows I’m here—prodding would be rude, right?  Let her tell me when she’s ready, or not, her choice.  Besides, I’m running behind.

Susie and I wrestle Mr. Earle’s tube back where it belongs and the second we finish and leave the room, Susie’s face pales.

Dr. Robbins is standing in the hall, blocking the path between where we stand and the nurses’ station.

He looks up at Susie and gives her a grin that turns my stomach into a rolling pool of bile and fire. His yellowish, crooked teeth and greasy hair make him look more like a Goodfellas reject than a doctor.  But hey, it could just be that I’m biased because he told me once that he hired me for my boobs.

Not my stellar resume.  Not my incredible grades that I worked by butt off to earn, but because he liked my boobs.

I wanted to quit right then and there.  To stand up and shout and sue and do all those noble things I would tell my sisters to do if they were in the same situation.

But yeah, I had just gotten divorced and needed the job.  Nothing like having to buy your cheating ex out of half of your own damn house.

So the words disappeared and I sort of just resorted to sending politely worded emails, like “Please remember to interact with the staff in a professional manner.” And “I believe we are due for the state-mandated sexual harassment prevention course.  Can I sign us up?”

Susie freezes beside me.  Her cheeks turn to scrambled eggs and she grabs my hand.  “Don’t let him touch me again.”  She whispers.

Again?  Touch her?  My vision blurs.  Like actually blurs as he walks towards us.  That creep. That stupid, sexist creep.  He touched her?  She’s just a child.  Mostly.  Practically.  Hell, it doesn’t matter how old she is!  He’s a monster.

Dr. Robbins sidles over and his snakelike tongue pokes in and out of his mouth as his eyes roam over Susie.  “Susan, do you know where the canned peaches are?  I need to use them for a videofluoroscopy this afternoon.”  He leans in closer to her and she clenches my hand as his chili taco breath assaults us. “Maybe you can show me in the supply closet?”

She shakes like a shake weight in those cheesy late-night infomercials.  “No.” Her voice is barely above a whisper, but I can hear her just fine.

He, however, moves closer.  “Stop,” I say.  As usual, my words do nothing. No one listens, dammit.  Again and again and again I’ve asked him to stop doing this.

“Stop,” I say again, louder.

He just moves on in closer, like I’m nothing more than a lamp.

That’s when I see it.  He reaches down and grabs her ass.  She jumps and he smiles.  “Get off.”  She hisses but he doesn’t listen, he never listens.  He cups her whole cheek now, grinning.

I punch him in the face.

His head slams back, blinking like, well, like I just punched him in the face.

Oh crap.

Did I really just punch my boss in the face?

My fingertips chill and my hand aches.

I didn’ttell me I didn’t.

Susie gasps, her hands covering her mouth and a look of unadulterated panic in her eyes. My throat tightens.

Oh my God, I totally did.

“She asked you to stop.” It’s the only thing that leaves my mouth in a somewhat coherent fashion.

He narrows his eyes, a large red bump creeping across his smarmy face. “You hit me!”

Susie, her jaw now on the ground, looks at me. Her eyes are wide and frightened like a deer’s.  Her voice is flat when she says, “You punched him.”

I kind of hate deer.

“Yes!  Yes, I see that.  You’re fine, right, Dr. Robbins?  You should have stopped.  We all know you can’t go around grabbing asses like they’re doorknobs. But you just kept grabbing and squishing it around so I had to, had to—“

“You’re fired.”  He growls.

“You can’t!”

“Get out, Miss Anderson.  Get out now before I call the police.”

Well, damn.

About the Author

Traci Highland writes funny books for sassy ladies.  She is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and has a Master’s from Quinnipiac University.  She uses this education to write books, bake cakes, garden and make homemade jams.  Her children say she’s bossy, her husband says she’s high-maintenance, but the dog thinks she’s perfect.

Her latest book is the romantic comedy, Miss Management.

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Traci Highland

“Dear Miss Behave,

Last weekend I was at the pool with the children, and there was a woman naked and walking around the locker room.

I hate to be prissy, but to be naked around young children like that just isn’t right. She comes to the pool regularly and I am not the only one who has happened upon her strolling around the locker room without clothes. Now I know there are showers and that people change in locker rooms, but showers should be taken while wearing bathing suits and there are private changing rooms that are clearly marked.

How can I convey to her the accepted rules of decency before any of our children become hopelessly corrupted?

Sincerely,

-Agape at the AquaPark”

 

–From Traci Highland’s Miss Behave

Traci Highland writes funny books for sassy ladies. She is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and has a Master’s from Quinnipiac University. She uses this education to write books, bake cakes, garden and make homemade jams. Her children say she’s bossy, her husband says she’s high-maintenance, but the dog thinks she’s perfect.

Miss Behave

Book Description:

She’s great at giving advice, too bad she never takes it…

Piper Anderson wants to be a serious journalist at a serious paper covering serious news. Instead, she’s stuck at the Pendleton Falls Herald, where her massive investigative skills are wasted penning the paper’s advice column, Miss Behave.

Her shot at a meaty story comes when she’s assigned to write up a profile of a local business, Brookes Jewelers. She is determined to write the piece so she can use the article to impress a real paper.

Unfortunately Hunter Brookes, co-owner of Brookes Jewelers and the Pendleton Falls Herald, is rather persistent, in his own hot little way, that the piece should be nothing more than a glorified sales pitch.

But when diamonds disappear, Piper may get the chance to do a real investigation, leading her to confront family secrets and worst of all, turn to her mother for help.

Piper soon realizes that there is more to Mr. Brookes than a tight ass and a ridiculous fascination with name tags. Together they deal with roasted pigs, crazy cat ladies, and gun-toting fashionistas.

In all the chaos, they just might find the one thing that neither one was looking for: true love.

Interview:

Hi Traci! Romantic Comedy has to be at the top of my must read list and your new book, Miss Behave (The Anderson Family Series Book 1), sounds exciting! What was it while writing this book that set your fingers on fire?

Traci: Oh darling! Romantic Comedy is absolutely my favorite as well! I think the part of this book that really got my fingers flying has to be the Miss Behave columns. I just adored Dear Abbey as a kid and wondered what would happen if her column was taken over by some snarky body-double that said horrible, terrible, no-good things in that column.

Can you tell us a little about your main character, Piper Anderson? She sounds like a fun character!

Traci: She is a rather delightful, if somewhat cheeky, young lady. She is a journalist that wants more than her small town assignment and her task as the local advice columnist, so she is desperately trying to write the worst advice column ever so that she gets taken off the assignment. But in Piper’s world, things never go as planned.

What about the rest of the Anderson family to which you base your new series? Who are they?

Traci: It starts with Ann, Piper’s mother, who is a bit too proper for Piper’s tastes, and Piper’s Aunt Elise, a gun-toting, hard-stomping, wrestling obsessed family matriarch. Then there are the four Anderson sisters, Mags, who has a terrible temper and somewhat unhealthy habit of speaking her mind, Betty, the beautiful, career-obsessed producer, and Stacy, the artist.

There is a love interest for Piper. Can you give us a little glimpse of who that might be?

Traci: He is everything that Piper is not. He is always put-together and a tad bit uptight. Hating disorder, he and Piper are on something of a collision course.

Where does your book take place and why did you choose that location?

Traci: It takes place in the fictional town of Pendelton Falls, CT. Small, in the quiet corner of the state, the central focus of the town is on the lovely lake at the center and the charming local shops that attract weekending New Yorkers.

What was your hardest scene to write?

Traci: The scene in the hotel at the end. You will see!!

They say all books of fiction have at least one pivotal point where the reader just can’t put the book down. What is one of the pivotal points in your book?

Traci: The scene with the scarf. Scarves can cause a surprising amount of trouble, darling.

Have you started on book 2 yet?

Traci: Book two, Mags’ book, is completely written and will be released very soon! Here is a wee bit of a blurb:

Mags has gotten herself in a ton of trouble: she’s lost her job, any hope for references, and she’s going to run out of money…. fast.

Yeah, sure, it may be her fault for punching her boss, but the jerk totally had it coming.

Nobody listens to her until she reaches her boiling point, and by then, well, she’ll admit that there’s no stopping Mr. Fist To The Face.

Now her years of hard work as a speech therapist are about to go down the drain unless she can find some way to salvage her career. So when her Aunt Elise calls to say that she has a job for her, it’s not like she can say no, even if the job is up in the wilds of Vermont.

Between stuffed moose, sloppy dogs and sexy men, Vermont proves to be a lot more interesting than she expected. But when she uncovers a scheme that would put her new employers’ livelihood in jeopardy, more than just hydrangea bushes are about to get squashed.

What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?

Traci: So many favorites! I think the scene towards the end with the she-cult, or maybe the scene with the gun-happy fashionista. Both were incredibly fun to write. (My dog prefers the scene with the hero’s dog, but she’s completely biased).

Is there a genre you haven’t written but would love to?

Traci: I have not yet written a true cozy mystery, and I think I would enjoy it!

What’s next for you?

Traci: Well, this interview wore me out, so I think a margarita is in order. After that, I’m writing Betty’s book. I’m having so much fun with this series and the Anderson girls!

I hope you enjoy the reads and thank you so much for having me on your site!

Love and Margaritas,

-Traci

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