My Best Friend Athena
by Dana Hammer
GENRE: Middle Grade Fantasy
Fanny Fitzpatrick has the coolest best friend ever. Athena is smart, and pretty, and brave, and kind. Fanny loves her friend, but sometimes, she feels a little jealous of how perfect Athena is.
But even “perfect” girls make mistakes, and Athena makes a big one when she accidentally turns the school bully into a cockroach. He was picking on their friend Gemma and Athena lost her temper and her magic powers just slipped out right in front of Fanny.
Now Fanny knows that Athena isn’t an ordinary girl – she’s the reincarnation of a Greek goddess, powers and all – and now she needs Fanny and Gemma’s help to hunt down the bully-turned-cockroach and turn him back into a human boy.
Fanny doesn’t want to spend all her time looking for a cockroach. She’s got the Junior Miss Super Pretty Pageant to prepare for, if she can get over her stage fright. Besides, Athena’s Dad, Zeus, has forbidden the girls from meddling with any more cockroaches or magic, and Zeus is a god you don’t want to mess with.
Fanny has to make a choice. Should she pursue her pageant dreams, or risk Zeus’ wrath to find the cockroach-boy? What’s the right thing to do? And how do you hunt down a cockroach anyway?
Normally, when I arrive at school, I’m tired and cold and grumpy, but not today! Because today I’ve got the World’s Coolest Necklace, and everyone’s gonna notice it and give me compliments. It’s a “statement” necklace, and I got it at an old lady’s estate sale yesterday. I was shopping with my best friend, Athena, when I saw it. It was sitting on a dresser, with a bunch of other jewellery, but this necklace was the only one that caught my eye. It’s a large octopus, with jewel-covered tentacles, and two pearls for eyes. I tried it on, and it looked like the tentacles were reaching around my neck, trying to choke me. I’d never seen anything so cool in my life. It was $20, which was more than I had, but luckily Athena was there, and she bought it for me. Athena always has lots of money, because she’s a rich kid, but that’s NOT why I’m friends with her.
Anyway, she saw how sad I was that I couldn’t afford the necklace and she just bought it for me, probably because she has excellent taste and could see what a great investment it would be. She said it was “quirky” and “an interesting piece,” which I happen to know is code for “high fashion”.
My mom said it was “tacky garbage” but she doesn’t know about fashion. She mostly wears gym clothes, even when she’s not at the gym, and she never wears jewelry, except her wedding ring.
When and Where to Read
By Dana Hammer
I recently heard a story about a school that asked its students to take pictures of themselves reading in the bathtub. Obviously, this is pretty creepy, and I get why parents did not want their kids to send pictures of themselves in the bathtub to their teacher. I wouldn’t either.
Here’s the thing though — reading in the bathtub is fantastic. You’re warm, and relaxed, and no one is there to bother you. So, while I think that that teacher was misguided at best, I can’t fault her for wanting to encourage tub-reading.
But bathtubs aren’t the only awesome place to read. Here are a few of my favorites.
- A hammock on a sunny day.
You just can’t beat a hammock in the shade on a hot day for a perfect reading environment. It is absolute bliss, especially if you have a little table next to you with a glass of icy-cold lemonade. Try to get your husband to bring you candy or frozen grapes, for the ultimate decadent reading experience.
It’s not that the airplane enhances the reading experience. It doesn’t. But the reading helps to take your mind off the unpleasantness of the plane ride itself. It’s easier to tolerate your neighbor’s elbows and thighs, the reek of the outhouse, the sudden turbulence, and the presence of those disgusting pretzel sticks that we’ve all collectively decided are acceptable plane food, when you’ve got a really engrossing novel in front of your face.
3) Anytime you hate the people around you.
Look. I know we’re supposed to love everyone, peace and harmony and all that. But sometimes, it’s just not possible. So when you’re in a situation where you simply cannot stand the terrible conversations and antics of the people around you, pull out a book. Yes, they will think you’re an insufferable nerd, but you don’t like those people anyway. So who cares? Open up and dig in.
4) When you’re alone in a restaurant.
Some people don’t like to eat alone in restaurants, but that’s never made much sense to me. Eating alone is the best! You don’t have to worry about people snatching food off your plate, or splitting the bill, waiting to order until your perpetually late friend shows up, or feeling ashamed for ordering two desserts. Eating alone erases all of those concerns.
But. If you’re going to eat alone, you can’t just sit at the table staring straight ahead in silence like a psychopath. You need to have a book. Now you’re not a psychopath, you’re a serious intellectual, who is thinking deep thoughts and improving her mind. Just don’t let people see the trashy vampire cover.
5) At sporting events.
You know how sometimes you are forced to go to sporting events? Like, maybe it’s your niece’s baseball game, or your friend’s kid’s soccer tournament, and you don’t want to go, but you are trying to be a good friend/aunt/mother, so you park yourself on the bleachers under the hot sun/cold wind/depressing clouds and settle in for the next eight hours. The obvious way to deal with this is to bring a flask with you and sip it throughout the ordeal to make it bearable, but if you do that too much, you’ll get a reputation as a drunk, and it will make the drive home challenging and/or illegal.
That’s why I recommend a hidden book. Keep one on your phone, using the kindle app, or whatever app you use for books. You can “check your phone” a lot, without it seeming weird, because everyone checks their phones all the time. Just remember to lift up your head and yell something encouraging every once in a while, like “GO MISSY!” Or “YAY TEAM!”
6) In traffic.
Audiobooks are a godsend for terrible traffic times. Seriously, I don’t know how people got by before audiobooks. I guess they just went home and beat everyone within reach of their clenched fists and sweaty palms. Seriously, if you live in a city that has heavy traffic, and you don’t have Libby or Audible or something similar, how are you even managing to keep it together? Get some audiobooks!
Of course, those are just some suggestions. You can read wherever you like, within reason. And hey, maybe check out my new book, My Best Friend Athena.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Dana Hammer is a novelist, screenwriter and playwright. She has won over forty awards and honors for her writing, few of which generated income, all of which were deeply appreciated. She is not a cannibal, but she is the author of A Cannibals Guide to Fasting. Dana is also the author of middle grade fantasy My Best Friend Athena which was inspired by a desire to write something her 9 year old daughter could read.
Dana Hammer will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.