Friday, August 1, 2014

Ruined Blitz

Ruined by Marian Cheatham
Publication date: Summer 2014
Genres: Romance, Young Adult

When your life has been ruined by lies, do you seek justice … or revenge?
Blythe Messina spends her senior year focused on her studies and college, and not on her ex, Stratford High’s lacrosse star, DB Whitmore. At least, that’s what Blythe keeps telling herself. But her younger cousin, Bonni, knows otherwise. Same goes for DB, who professes to be over Blythe and their breakup, but his teammates aren’t fooled.
When scandalous photos of Bonni and the lacrosse captain are texted around Stratford, Bonni’s virtuous reputation is ruined. She pleads innocence, but no one believes her. No one, except Blythe and DB, who come together to uncover the truth. But, will they stay together?
Ruined is a modern twist on a classic Shakespearean romance.
“Deceit, loyalty, honor, and romance–Ruined has it all! A teen version of Much Ado  About Nothing that Shakespeare aficionados are sure to savor!”
Kym Brunner, Author of Wanted: Dead or in Love & One Smart Cookie


I hated waiting in line, especially on a Friday night when I had all this pent-up energy after a long week of sitting through mind-numbing classes. I languished behind a dozen other people for two whole minutes before getting my Game World card topped off. I had to waste even more of my valuable free time waiting on Sly and Slash to get re-activated. Finally, armed with loaded cards, we paraded into the main concourse.

            “Well, looky here.” I stopped short. Sly crashed into me. “Watch it!” I whacked him.

            “Sorry, chief.” He rubbed his shoulder. “What’re we looking at?”

            “Them.” I pointed at Cory Rash and Bonni Messina strolling hand in hand toward us. “So, the rumors are true?” 

“Yep.” Bonni swung Corys hand. “We’re official.” 

I thought back to the party and how I’d tried to shake things up by getting Cory jealous. Things hadn’t gone quite as planned, but maybe tonight I could get a little payback. “So, Bonni. Daddy’s okay with this? I mean Cory is older. Probably more experienced with women.”

“Oh, Daddy loves him.” She gazed at Cory and batted her eyes, and I swore I saw those cartoon hearts swirling around her head. 

“We should get going.” Cory sounded nervous and even more whiny than usual. “I see a line forming.” He steered Bonni toward the Game World Grill.

“Dont go, Bonni. Hang around and tell us what Daddy said about our teammate, Cory.” I tried to sound genuine, like a friend. My sincere act must have worked because Bonni tugged at Cory’s hand, urging him to stay. Clueless sophomores were so easy to manipulate. “Tell us all about this new romance.”

Bonni gave Cory a good yank, and he lurched to a stop. “Daddy thinks he’s great. In fact, Daddy likes him so much, he let Cory take the LS tonight.”

“What?” I choked. “Cory’s driving a Lexus?”

“Just a loaner.” He let out a jittery laugh. “Gotta give it back, you know.” 

Tonight. But if those two got serious … 

“Of course, you know, Daddy loves your brother, too,” Bonni prattled on. “Daddy told Paolo to bring your father by Messina Motors, and he’d make them a good deal on a new Lex—” She stopped and smiled at me. “Oh, um, I’m sure, Daddy would make you a great deal, too.” She looked over at Slash and Sly. “You guys, as well. He’d give any of you Falcons a good price.” 

“Like I can afford a Lexus,” Slash sneered.  

“C’mon, Bonni.” Cory dropped her hand, grabbed her by her bony-ass shoulders, and pushed her toward the Grill. “We have to get going. See you guys later.”   

I headed for the Sports Arena, Sly and Slash trailing behind like the obedient lackeys they were. “The idea of that fool dating Messina money makes me wanna puke.” I stopped in front of the Basketball Throw and swiped my card in the slot. “I’d love to find a way to bust those two up.” Four balls rolled down the shoot into the pocket in front of me. 

“I could beat the crap out of him for you,” Slash offered.

“That could make them even tighter. Bonni would feel sorry for Cory. Want to nurse him back to health.” I took my first shot. “No, what I need is a way to humiliate them.” The ball circled the rim and then dropped off to one side. “I want to ruin their spotless reputations.” 

“Like that Facebook incident,” said Sly, “that happened to that Maggie chick I dated freshman year. Some of her friends posted some embarrassing pictures of her. Mags was so ashamed, she missed two weeks of school.”

“I saw those pictures.” I took another shot. “They were hysterical. Especially that drunk one of her puking in her dad’s Escalade.” The ball bounced off the backboard and forward over the rim. “We need something more damaging, like photos of Bonni hooking up with another guy.”

“How we gonna get those?” asked Slash. “When she’s all over Rash?”

I took my third shot. The ball hit the outside of the rim and dropped like a boulder to the floor. “What if we got Cory to think she was cheating on him?”

“That would kill him.” Sly sniggered. “His good girl gone bad.”

“And what if the guy turning the good girl bad is my brother? That would get Paolo into hot water with his tight buddy, Leo Messina.” I spun on Slash. “Can you get your hands on some Roofies?”

“The date rape drug?”

“You got a problem with that?”

Slash shook his head. “Nope. I’m your guy. But those pills cost.”

“Don’t sweat it. I’ll front the money. In fact, there’ll be some serious cash for both of you if you help me pull this off.” I raised my last ball and released. The ball slipped right through the net. “Slam dunk.” Slash and Sly jumped up to shoulder bump each other. “Let’s do this. First chance we get.”

“When will that be?” Slash asked.

I wandered past the sporting games. I wasn’t in the mood for baseball or golf. I wanted to pound something. “When the opportunity presents itself, I’ll know.”


Marian Cheatham was born in Chicago, Illinois. A graduate of Northern Illinois University, Marian taught special education in Cicero, Illinois for several years before becoming a full-time writer.

Currently, I'm writing a new young adult novel series, Stratford High; contemporary retellings of Shakespeare's plays set in the fictional high school. Ruined, book one in the series, due out spring 2014, is inspired by Much Ado About Nothing. Book two, due out fall 2014, is based on The Merchant of Venice. Book three is due out winter 2015.

On my Facebook author page,, I write a weekly post called the Everyday Eastland with facts and stories, both historical and current, about Chicago's greatest loss-of-life disaster. I lecture on the Eastland at schools, libraries, and on Haunted Chicago coach tours. I'm an active member of a Barnes & Noble critique group. I blog at

I live in a suburb of Chicago with my family and our menagerie of pets.




In a former life, I taught special education to primary-aged students and read to them every day. At that age, they enjoyed picture books, and so did I. In fact, I’m still not sure who loved them more—me or them. One summer vacation, I decided that I could write a picture book. Boy, was I wrong. There’s a very special technique to writing for young readers, and I just didn’t have the knack. So I tried middle grade and finished off a few novels which I sent around to agents and editors without any luck. I moved onto to YA and found my niche. I love writing for young adults and will probably stay with this genre for the rest of my career.





I’d like to say that I write consistently four to six hours per day, but that’s not always the case. Life is hectic, so I take whatever time I can get. But my office is my sanctuary where I try to enjoy peace and quiet. When I’m in the “zone,” time whizzes by me. An hour can seem like a minute. I have to be careful when I’m cooking to set a timer or I’ll get involved in my writing and completely forget about dinner. Believe me, I’ve burned my share of food. My poor husband can attest to that.





First and foremost, get involved in a good critique group for support and guidance. You can attend meetings before you even start writing and listen to others read their work. It’s amazing how much you can learn from a few good critiques. If you’re lucky enough to find that perfect fit, you can stay with that group throughout your writing career. I’ve been with the same bunch for a dozen years. We’ve all grown together as writers, and we’re each other’s biggest fans.


Then you have to read, read, read. Study how-to’s on writing. Immerse yourself in the genre that you’re interested in writing for. And when you’re ready, BIC – put your ‘butt in the chair’ and write. Fill that blank screen with your thoughts. Don’t edit. Finish the first draft and then go back and rewrite. Remember - rewriting is the key to success. Don’t hang on to something that doesn’t work just because you like it. You’re writing for others, not yourself, so be ready and willing to let go and rework your piece. You’ll be glad you took the time to kill your darlings.





My debut novel, Eastland, came out in February 2014. Eastland is historical fiction YA based on the real-life story of the 1915 Eastland boat disaster in Chicago. The book is intense. There’s no way to sugar-coat a disaster of that magnitude. But I added romance and a sense of hope because life after all, did go on for the survivors and their families



Well, the Bard of course. But I have eclectic taste in literature. I love Harry Potter and couldn’t wait for the next book to come out, so I’d have to say I’m a huge fan of J. K. Rowling. Right now, I’m reading the Game of Thrones series by George R. R. Martin who I think is the most creative writer on the planet today. I enjoy the sci-fi writings of Orson Scott Card (Ender’s Game). But I also love historical fiction, especially the work of Philippa Gregory (The Other Boleyn Girl). But my most treasured book by far is Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden. When that book ended, I sat stupefied for half an hour. I wanted it to go on forever. Now that’s a great writer!





My father took me and my brother to the Goodman Theater in Chicago to see Hamlet when we were both in junior high. George fell asleep. I fell in love. The way the words played against each other. The strange rhythms, the energy and emotions of the actors. I didn’t understand everything that was said that day, but I knew one thing with certainty – this Shakespeare fellow was amazing and I wanted to find out more about him. That’s just what I did.


I read his works in high school and college, and attended every play I could afford to see. I travelled to Stratford Canada for a Shakespeare festival, visited Stratford-Upon-the-Avon in Great Britain to see where the Bard was born. I even toured the new Globe Theater in London overwhelmed by the thought that WS himself walked these very streets hundreds of years ago. So I guess you could say that I’m kind of a Shakespeare nerd, but that’s okay. I’m fine with that.


My Stratford High series may or may not turn readers onto Shakespeare. But even if readers don’t fall in love, I hope they still enjoy the book. Ruined is fun and evil and romantic all at the same time. Forget about iambic pentameter and dive into Ruined.





Book Two in the series will be inspired by the Merchant of Venice. The working title is Turnabout, but that may change. We’ll see come fall 2014 when the book is due out.





Right now, the only character that will re-appear in each book is Dr. Bard, the principal of Stratford High. Dr. Bard is of course …

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