Tag: Young Adult Novels

CALLER 107 Blog Tour – Catch a Glimpse of the New Matthew Cox Title!

Blog Tour


Caller 107 by Matthew Cox is now available for purchase!

Genre: young-adult, contemporary paranormal

Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press



When thirteen-year-old Natalie Rausch said she would die to meet DJ Crazy Todd, she did not mean to be literal.

Two years is a long time to be stuck between two people that want nothing more than to destroy each other. A tween crush on the larger-than-life jock from a local radio station is the only trace of a once-happy life ruined by warring parents.

Whenever WROK 107 ran a contest, she would dive for the phone, getting busy signals and dead air every time. She never expected to get through, but at least with her best friend at her side, it used to be fun.

Before her parents ruined that too.

Her last desperate attempt to get their attention, falling in with a dangerous group of older teens, goes as wrong as possible. With no one left to blame for her mess of a life but herself, karma comes full circle and gives her just a few hours to make up for two years’ worth of mistakes–or be forever lost.


MATTHEW COX: Born in a little town known as South Amboy NJ in 1973, Matthew has been creating science fiction and fantasy worlds for most of his reasoning life. Somewhere between fifteen to eighteen of them spent developing the world in which Division Zero, Virtual Immortality, and The Awakened Series take place. He has several other projects in the works as well as a collaborative science fiction endeavor with author Tony Healey. Matthew is an avid gamer, a recovered WoW addict, Gamemaster for two custom systems (Chronicles of Eldrinaath [Fantasy] and Divergent Fates [Sci Fi], and a fan of anime, British humour (<- deliberate), and intellectual science fiction that questions the nature of reality, life, and what happens after it.

And now for a sneak peak into CALLER 107! This excerpt is from CHAPTER 5 of the young adult novel:


The hot shower helped her mood; the wall of silence that hung over breakfast and the ride to school did not. Mrs. Mendoza was off that day, and her mother’s culinary efforts were limited to dumping cereal in a bowl and carrying the unopened bottle of milk to the table. Even toast was a challenge. Natalie kept her arms folded and her gaze out the passenger side window. After last night, she wanted to stay as far away from Etan, Kevin, and Cory… even Jason, as she could. That had been far too close. She wondered if they had gotten away. The police cruiser had come in quiet; somehow, she set off a silent alarm. If they got pinched, she had no doubt they would drag her into it. After all, she was the one that set off the alarm.

After that night, she wanted―needed―comforting, but the only thing Mother offered was more yelling and derision. She should talk. Why did Mother do that to their family? What happened to the woman that she used to admire? By the time the car squeaked to a halt by the private school, Natalie was crying. She did not look over before getting out. As her boot hit the street, she froze; one hand on the door and her back turned. A sense of something wafted out of the car that made her pause. If Mother apologized for being a bitch, Natalie would fall apart right there―she might even apologize herself, perhaps even hug her. Was she going to say sorry? Come on, Mom, you can do it… please.

“Have a good day, hon. Please think about what you’re doing with yourself.”

Bitch. Slam.

Mother had no idea how shallow she was; much less see what she was doing to the people she supposedly loved. Natalie trudged through the courtyard, clinging to her backpack, ignoring the other kids trickling in just a little late. The massive front door guard offered an honest smile as she shrugged through the metal detector. For him, she managed to brighten up. He was the only one in this entire building that did not judge anyone.

“Morning Darius.”

“You a’ight?” Buttons threatened to spring off his white shirt as he leaned forward. The security guard hat tilted at an odd angle, balanced atop thick cornrows. “You don’t look so good.”

“I’m okay, just a fight with the bitch.”

He shook his head. “Y’oughta ‘spect yo’ momma, girl. Y’only get one.”

She frowned. “She doesn’t respect herself, why should I?”

Darius leaned against the wall, folding his arms with a resigned shake of the head; the stool protested his change of posture with an audible creak. Natalie wandered through the hall, pivoting through the flood of a sudden post-homeroom crowd as she continued on her way to her locker.

It had been a week since she had even bothered to open it; the combination took a moment to come back. 3-14-15. Pi… You are such a damn nerd. The door squeaked to the left. You’re better at nerd than you are at street punk. She frowned at the texts and notebooks. For no reason she could think of, the sight of them made her angrier with her mother. What did that lawyer do that made her father break contact? She put a hand on a thick calculus textbook, rubbing her thumb over the spine. She could pick herself up, try to start giving a shit again, but what was the point? A yearlong deliberate slide was a hard thing to pull out of, and repeating a grade would destroy any chance of early college admission.


Skipping senior year and going right to college was a prospect her father had been thrilled about; now, he did not even want to talk to her. She dropped a few books into the backpack and pushed the locker closed.



Don’t forget to add CALLER 107 to your Goodreads Shelf!




Writers Get the Last Word – Bullies Beware

One of the things I enjoy the most about writing YA are the issues involved. It’s true that one must be careful about coming off too preachy or soap-boxy when tackling the issues today’s teen faces. Nobody wants to read a story in which issues are crammed down their throats.

One of the issues I enjoy tackling the most? THE BULLY. Why? Because I was bullied relentlessly in high school. What I like to get across to my teen readers is that IT REALLY DOES GET BETTER. Sure, there are bullies out here in the adult world. But often we learn along the way that we (THE BULLIED) actually hold all the power. In high school, my bullies held the power only because I allowed them to do so. I didn’t know I could put up shields to block their negativity. That I could survive all the physical attacks. That one day I would be free of them. When I was in the thick of high school, just trying to survive the hallways, I was sure I wasn’t going to make it out alive. Because I allowed them to control me with the fear they instilled in me. I allowed them to tear me apart. I allowed them to get inside my head.

Before I go any further, I have to point out the one saying I hate the most: STICKS AND STONES MAY BREAK MY BONES BUT NAMES WILL NEVER HURT ME. That is the biggest crock of shit going. Don’t sell it here, because it’s not true.


Names hurt. They leave a lasting scar. When it comes right down to it, the names are carried with the bullied victim far longer than the sticks and stones. In high school I was thrown in front of a moving car, punched and kicked almost daily, pushed down the stairs, tripped, had chairs and food thrown at me. Some of those things stung. The moving car incident hurt the driver more than it hurt me. The woman behind the wheel was in her 70s, and I’m not sure she ever recovered from the trauma caused to her that day. The thing about the physical abuse is…I knew how to process it. It hurt.

The names…another story completely. The names get in your head and drill themselves down into your psyche. Twenty years later, when you’re having a bad day and feeling somewhat worthless, those names pop back into your head in the form of TOLD-YOU-SOs. Just a little self-doubt is all it takes for the wellspring of negativity to turn back on. And you get to hear those old recordings in the voices of those loathed bullies themselves. It’s miraculous how that happens.

If you let it.

I can’t even imagine what today’s teens go through…with cyber bullying. They must never get a break. Social Media bullying sounds like a nightmare onto itself. Makes me cringe just thinking about it.

But you can turn the cycle around. You can take the power back. I know. It’s hard work. But it can be done. The moment we stop letting it get to us is the moment the power shifts. Where does the bully come from? Chances are your bully is a swirling mess of non-confidence on the inside. Chances are they are suffering. Chances are they are unhappy, unfulfilled, unsatisfied. They might even be experiencing bullying themselves. Maybe at home, where it is hardest to imagine it happening. We should all have a safe-place to lay our heads at night.

When I tried to be empathetic towards my bullies, I found things a little easier. I found I could forgive some of their anger…that it might not all be about me. Who could hate the way a person looks THAT much? Who could want to kill you because you have a mohawk and dress like a crazy person? There was more to it than met the eye. My bullies were simply suffering in a different way than I myself was suffering.

It’s hard to grow a thick skin, but not impossible. Bullies can’t hold you down forever. There is light at the end of the narrow high school tunnel. Believe it or not.

As a YA writer, I now have the ability to create bullies and show how very fallible they are. Often they appear to be the cream of the high school crop…but this is not always the case. What I get to do is save my bullied characters from their bully. It’s liberating. It shows readers that maybe the bully doesn’t always win. Believe me, when you’re in high school fighting the battle day in and day out…you’re CERTAIN the bully wins. When you’re on the ground, with one side of your face scraping asphalt and the other side being stepped on by the guy who just can’t wait to ruin your day, you tend to forget the possibility of a bully-free future. With the tunnel vision that comes with being in high school, one really can’t imagine a day when they will be bully free.

Some thirty years ago, I always allowed the bully to get the last word. I was afraid not to. They controlled me. Sure, I had my days where I got lippy. I would just get fed up and say my piece…because I needed to. But I knew that for every deposit I made into the bank of TALKING-BACK, I’d have to make a withdrawal out of the bank of TAKE-A-BEATING. I paid for every word I uttered in my own defense. It was the way it went.

Today, I get the last word. I get to write these bully characters into corners. I get to dissect them. I get to confront them. I get to say, NO MORE. WE’RE NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANY MORE. Writing is an extremely powerful form of self-therapy. And the finished product has the potential of helping others. If my writing on bullies (or any of the other YA issues I happen to tackle) helps one reader–only one–I feel it’s worth it. Because I know how easy it is to forget that your high school bullies won’t be making your life a living hell for the rest of your life. But I know that NOW…because I’ve been through it. When I was in the heart of it, I considered these people my lifelong shadows. I was filled with despair whenever I thought of going to school. I knew they would find me. I knew I would have to fend off their slings and arrows time and time again…forever.


I have to remind people that they will be free. There will come a day…