AUTHOR: Colleen Cutayne

13 year old tagger, Jay Roberts is caught in a
shake-down of the chop shop in his favourite alley. Jay is given a choice;
juvenile detention or his mother’s run down
Indian reservation where his estranged grandfather will
oversee the punishment.
Colleen Cutayne
Colleen Cutayne

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Book 1

Cover Image 1
Because of the Moon
13 year old tagger, Jay Roberts is caught in a
shake-down of the chop shop in his favourite alley. With no
one to back him up Jay is given a choice, either
juvenile detention or six months on his mother’s run down
Indian reservation where his estranged grandfather will
oversee the punishment.
Confined to the village, Jay feels claustrophobic and used. He
continues his destructive behaviour; shooting a crow,
breaking curfew and hitch-hiking back to the city. His social
worker, thick-ankles Thornton, is anxious to catch Jay in the
act and send him to youth detention.
The kids of the village treat Jay as an outsider, calling him
"Apple". To survive, Jay is forced to confront Miles, the
school bully. Jay’s creative problem solving will either
neutralize Miles and win the respect of his peers or turn him
into “Apple” sauce.
Jay’s resentment is slowly chipped away as he gets to know
the quirky villagers. Grampa reveals their rich heritage
through storytelling and totem pole carving which may be lost
as more people are forced to move away. Will Jay choose to
stay and fight for the vanishing village of his ancestors or will
he return to the city he calls home?
Because of the Moon celebrates how we have different ways of being the
same.
A funny and heart-warming story about standing up for yourself, discovering
who you are and fighting to preserve your culture and heritage.

In the follow up book "The Copper Raven" Jay Roberts searches for the missing artifacts stolen during the violent raids on First Nations villages. The Potlatch abolitions saw terrible destruction of Jay's peoples way of life. He wants more than anything to find the stolen masks and priceless treasures like The Copper Raven. Finding them will help heal the village and celebrate the future. The only problem is no one believes they are out there. Follow Jay as he embarks on a journey of survival, using his wits and instincts to read the clues left for him by his ancestors. Will he complete his quest before the eagle poachers put an end to his search and maybe his life?

Chapter 1

A beefy hand squeezed the back of Jay’s neck. Jay struggled but the grip tightened thrusting him closer to the building.  The assailant reached with his other hand and pulled wide a door, heavy as a bank vault. The door resisted, and then picked up speed like an 1800’s locomotive, slamming into the frame with a spine-jolting crash. All activity inside the garage stopped. Jay turned his head to get a look around but only caught a glimpse of glossy red lacquer paint and chrome. Oil and paint fumes mingled in the air.

“What do you think you’re doing bringing a kid in here?” yelled the painter.

“I caught him out in the alley, spying,” said Beefy-hands. He pushed Jay into the middle of the oil stained concrete floor littered with car parts. Jay rubbed his neck where the feeling of clenched fingers continued to sting.

A hissing sound came from the corner. A guy with a blow torch decapitated a BMW. He pushed back his welder’s mask, wiped sweat from his eyes and squinted at Jay.

“Is that right, kid? You spying on us?” said the welder, holding the lit torch close to Jay’s face.

Jay retreated from the flame. “No, I wasn’t spying. I just wondered what was going on. You guys are into cars, right? You modify cars and then sell them like those motorcycle guys on TV. Nice place. Ok, I guess I’ll see you around then.”

Jay took a few steps back.

“You’re stupid, kid, if you think we’re stupid enough to think you’re that stupid,” said another guy from behind a desk. His head was shaved to a shine; only a handle-bar mustache gave away his former hair color. He rolled back his chair, and was on his feet in a split second.

“Kinda far from the reservation, aren’t you?” said Handle-bar. He swaggered across the garage past a rack of wrenches.

“I’m not an Indian,” said Jay.

“Yeah, right. What are you doing out this late, anyway? Shouldn’t you be in bed, kid?” said Handle-bar, closing in on Jay.

“You’re right, I should get going. I have school tomorrow,” stammered Jay as he turned toward the door.

Jay was stopped in his tracks by the man with the beefy hands. His bulging arms crossed over his barrel chest. He stood between Jay and the door like a night club bouncer.

“Don’t worry about school. You won’t be attending,” said Handle-bar.

Jay’s heart pounded harder. Adrenalin rushed through his veins as his eyes darted toward the open door.

“Shut the door,” yelled Handle-bar to Welder.

Jay’s attempt to pass failed as Beefy-hands grabbed a mitt full of Jay’s hood and didn’t let go. Jay took a step back to avoid strangulation by his own clothing.

The two hot dogs he ate for dinner rose in Jay’s throat. Welder, lit torch still in hand, moved past Jay to shut the door. Without thinking, Jay pulled the can of spray paint out of his pocket and pressed the nozzle, aiming for the flame. The paint ignited in a whoosh. Everyone ducked and shielded their eyes. Jay dropped the can and ran out the door, down the alley.

Jay had almost reached the safety of the cross street when he hit the ground. The air exited his lungs as Welder tackled Jay from behind, pressing his face into the wet asphalt speckled with gum and cigarette butts.

“Let me go. I won’t tell. I promise,” pleaded Jay. He breathed through his mouth to save his nostrils from the urine scented alley.

“Get up, you little puke,” said Welder. He hauled Jay to his feet and back to the garage.

The place smelled like burnt hair.

“You got guts, kid. I’ll give you that,” said Handle-bar, checking his mustache.

“Are you going to kill me?” asked Jay.

“No, but he might,” said Handle-bar, nodding toward Beefy-hands. “Killed his ma a few years back.”

Beefy-hands strutted up so close Jay could tell lunch had consisted of either Italian or Greek. “My mother wouldn’t get me a beer, so I stuck a knife in her and stuck her to the wall,” said Beefy-hands. His lip curled over crooked teeth.

“I, ah, guess you didn’t get your beer then,” said Jay. The garage went library quiet. He waited for the life to be squeezed from him.

Handle-bar snickered. “I guess you didn’t get your beer then,” he repeated and roared.

Welder and Painter joined in, laughing and smacking Jay on the back.

“I like this kid,” said Handle-bar, catching his breath.

“Are you kidding? He tried to blow us up,” said Beefy-hands. He poked Jay in the chest.

 “Shows the kid’s got balls. What were you doing with spray paint in your pocket?” asked Handle-bar.

“Painting stuff; walls, garbage cans, underpasses, whatever,” said Jay, rubbing his chest.

“Just like you used to do, eh,” said Handle-bar to Painter. “Maybe we got ourselves a new apprentice.”

“That’s ok. I’m getting a paper route,” said Jay.

“We both know it’s too late for that. Unless you want me to talk to your mom or maybe the cops and let them know what you’ve been up to?” said Handle-bar.

“You’ll get in more crap than I will,” said Jay. His voice sounded braver than he felt.

“No way, I gotta couple of cousins on the force. We support their charity ‘donations for donuts’ so they don’t mind our little side business. I figure they’ll get to us one day but right now we’re low on their list,” said Handle-bar.

“I was talking about my mom,” said Jay.

The room erupted in snorts of laughter like feeding time at the pig trough.

Handle-bar put his arm around Jay. “You could make a lot of money and help us out. How ‘bout it, kid? You work for us and we let you reach puberty.”

“Do I have a choice?” said Jay.

“You always have a choice,” said Handle-bar. All eyes shifted as the door clanged open.

“Freeze! Police!”

childrens YA
fiction, humor, childrens, young adult

About Me

Author Portrait
I have been writing for about 10 years now. I started out writing picture books but realized it was very difficult to break into the market. A publisher told me to write novels for children and teens as publishers were more likely to accept them. He explained this was because pictures are so expensive to produce and that publishers only produced a few picture books a year. I did not think I had a novel in me. It seemed such a daunting task but I started out with a few pages and then built on them. I added characters and interesting side stories that propelled the plot forward and kept the action moving. The result is Because of the Moon. I am now working on a follow up novel titled "The Copper Raven".

The Children's writing list on Yahoo, the SCBWI, and the UBC writing centre have been instrumental in the progress I have made. Although self-published I have sold hundreds of copies on Amazon and feel like I am a successful writer. These books would never have been seen or read by someone if I didn't have to courage to self-publish.

I have just recently been invited to participate in an author panel review at my local library.

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