I love scavenger hunts. Love them! In years past, 1977 and I hosted a daylong event called Bacon Hunt. Formerly known as The Amazing Scavenger Race Hunt, every Bacon Hunt incorporated elements of The Amazing Race and an epic scavenger hunt.
Hmmm...it's about time for another one of those. Mark your calendars for May 19th, 2018.
But this post isn't about us, it's about YOU. You're on the YA Scavenger Hunt, and it is ON!
(If you are new to this and want to play for fabulous prizes, find the skinny here.)
I'm on the red team this season, so you'll find my secret number in red somewhere in this post. Add the numbers of the 20 members of the red team, and enter the contest to win 20 free books! Here they are:
A copy of my first book is included in the Red Team Prize for this season's hunt, but I also am offering a separate prize: a finished copy of Life Before PLUS an ARC of my new book, Antipodes. Entering the drawing for my bonus prize is simple: follow me on Twitter! For an additional chance to win, leave a comment on this blog post indicating your favorite contemporary YA novel.
Now you know what you're playing for, so on to the hunt!
This season, I'm hosting bestselling author MK Harkins, author of Famous by Default. MK has always been a voracious reader. I heard--but am not sure I believe--she read 85 books by herself on her third birthday. After hitting a dry spell of reading material, she decided to write the kind of book she'd like to read.
Here's MK Harkins:
I wrote my first Young Adult Paranormal novel (The Reader) originally as a stand-alone. But with some coaxing (in some cases begging – lol) I decided to write a sequel. Below is an exclusive (unedited) sneak peek at the first part of Chapter One.
Cannon Beach, Oregon
I should be dead.
Pain shot through me like someone had pierced my heart with an ice pick. I lowered my head and closed my eyes. God, the rejection was as physical as it could get.
Why didn’t I just stay in Samara and get blown to bits with the other Jacks?
“Are you okay?” A girl’s voice cut through my fog.
How long had I been sitting on the bench staring at the ocean this time? Correction. Staring at Ann. I hadn’t been aware someone sat right next to me.
I shot the girl beside me a quick glance. Pretty. Probably eighteen or so. A blonde-haired, blue-eyed beauty. Most guys would sit up and take notice. The only girl I could see, or would ever want to look at, was a hundred yards away. With her husband. My cousin and former best friend.
I hated him almost as much as I loved her.
“Beautiful family,” she observed.
Whatever. I pushed down the searing pain and took a deep breath to keep my pounding heart steady. “I like to people watch. It can be entertaining,” I told her as I turned away from Ann and stared at the ocean. The intruder needed to leave before I snapped.
“Do you know them?” The girl tipped her head in the direction of my obsession.
The words slipped out before I could filter. “I knew a girl like her a long time ago. I loved her deeply.” I wanted to stop but kept going. “But I made mistakes and I couldn’t fix them.” What was wrong with me? I hadn’t talked to anyone in two years and now I was giving this stranger my life story. I shifted my glance toward her. Two clear blue innocent eyes stared back at me.
Just a normal girl sitting with me on the bench.
“That’s too bad.” She frowned.
I turned my eyes back to Ann. She laughed as she dipped her son’s toes into the lapping waves.
“Did you ever try to make things right?” the girl asked.
“I sacrificed my happiness for hers.” And handed her right over to Devon, my best friend. “Painful, but worth it.” My thoughts drifted back to the night of the explosion. “I saved her life, but it was her who really saved mine.”
The girl placed her hand over her heart. “Oh, that’s so romantic.”
I stifled an eye roll. It wasn’t romantic. I’d lost Ann forever. Misery rippled through me like the waves assaulting the shore a short distance away. A mortal would never understand. All of them were the same. So simplistic.
“Will you see her again?”
“No,” I said while staring directly at Ann.
“Hey,” the girl said softly.
I forced my gaze away from Ann to the stranger’s ice blue eyes. Unusual color. “Yeah?”
“I know what it’s like. You know, being alone.”
I almost laughed. I wanted to ask, Oh, you do? You know what it’s like to be living with people for thousands of years and yet be completely alone? To form friendships knowing there would be a day you’d have to make a choice and maybe betray them? To trust your mother only to find out she was an imposter? To finally fall in love, have it change everything, and then lose her at the last moment?
I could never get closer to Ann than I was right now, partially hidden by an ancient boulder and some beach scrub. Devon would either kill me on the spot or put me in the Colorado Compound. Out of the two choices, I’d go with death. The Jail Compound was built as an example to all The Readers. If you committed murder you were sent there for all eternity. An eight by ten box without windows or any human interaction. Only scraps of food thrown in a few times a day. Dark, musty, and cold. A living hell. I shivered remembering my last visit. Torment and the lack of hope were the only visible signs of life in the inmate’s eyes. They’d be better off dead.
I had killed my friend Marcus and betrayed the Readers, so I had a one-way ticket with my name on it. If I killed Marcus, why couldn’t I remember it? The bench below me felt like cold marble. Atarah. She posed as my mom for over two thousand years. Pure evil. I wondered what part she played in this.
I shook off the idea. Didn’t matter. I’d never know. The Readers would never believe me anyway and Atarah was long dead. The truth died with her and all the Jacks when Samara was annihilated. All of them except for one.
As long as I could see Ann and know she was okay was good enough for me. I didn’t need anyone or anything else. I deserved to be alone and accepted it.
“Are you okay?” the girl asked for the second time.
No. “I usually sit here alone.” Take the hint and leave.
“Oh.” Her voice dropped. “It’s just that, well—“
The ground beneath us began to shake. “What was that?” I scanned the beach and all I could make out was the short grass blowing in the breeze. “An earthquake?” Ann and her family were the only people in sight and continued to splash around in the shallow waves like nothing had happened. The houses behind me stood solid, no difference. Must be my imagination. But something was off. Where were all the seagulls?
The girl lowered her head and closed her eyes. “No, no, no,” she gasped.
The ground continued to shake. “I think it’s just a little earthquake.” I pointed behind us. “Look, the houses all look fine. No damage.”
She lifted her head slowly and we locked eyes. Arctic eyes. Blue like a glacier. A chill ran down my spine.
“What’s going on?” I asked. In her eyes, something shimmered. What the hell?
She blinked slowly. “The epicenter is ninety miles offshore. That means you have fourteen minutes to warn Ann and her family to get to higher ground before the wave hits.”
I grabbed her shoulders. “What are you talking about. How did—” I dropped my hands. A buzzing sensation had started at my fingertips and worked down my arms. “Who are you?” I shouted and stood to shake out my arms.
“I’m, I’m…no one. Forget you saw me.”
“The hell I will. How do you know about Ann? Is this a trap?” I yelled at the girl. Her eyes bulged and she shook her head. “Tell me right now.”
Thanks for reading! I should have it ready for publication by the end of 2017. ? Add it to your Goodreads list here.
Thank you for sharing, MK!
And thanks to you, hunters, for participating! You will find MK Harkins on her website, Facebook, and goodreads.
You're on the Red Team's hunt, and now you're off to visit award-winning novelist Laurisa White Reyes. Happy hunting!
The Internet hosts HEAPS of advice for new writers and new authors. I do not weigh in on those, because publishing is a business where your mileage may vary. I'm doing what works for me!
Today, I have a single piece of advice for new authors: think carefully about your cover art. My publisher and I agreed on the cover for Life Before, and it truly fits the story, but I hadn't realized it would be everywhere. It's on my business cards, all over my website, on posters when I speak at book stores, and on name tags at book events. The cover was perfect for Xander, but I'm not really a dirty Chucks kind of girl.
Next Thursday, we're revealing my new cover. It's beautiful. I'll be buying new business cards and revamping my website as soon as possible!
Photo credits for the above: Mira Thomt, Abra Johnson and Carlos Barradas
Telling someone her writing is private and secured with a password is an agreement. If you have administrator's access to that writing and read it despite the agreement, you have gained illegal access. And lost my trust.
You missed it! YA Scavenger Hunt runs each spring and autumn, so perhaps we'll see you next time.
Hello hunters! The YA Scavenger Hunt is on! If you want to play for fabulous prizes, find the skinny here.
I'm on the blue team. You'll find my favorite number highlighted in blue somewhere in this post. Add the numbers of the twenty members of the blue team, and enter the contest to win 20 free books! These ones:
A copy of my book is included in the Blue Team Prize for this season's hunt, but I also am offering a separate prize: a Life Before prize pack. Entering the drawing for my bonus prize is simple: follow me on Twitter! For an additional chance to win, leave a comment on this blog post indicating the best YA book you've read recently.
Now that you know what you're playing for, on to the hunt! This season, I'm hosting Julie Reece, author of One Summer with Autumn.
Autumn’s cool unravels when her sister lectures against disappointing the family again. And when a young, bearded guy steps through the crowd to settle the growing argument between siblings, Autumn lashes out, dubbing him a “Duck Dynasty wannabe.”
At Nineteen, Caden Behr is clueless as to why his man parts are threatened by the fearsome girl before him. He'd only come to find an intern for his recreational equipment company, not break up a girl-fight between two sisters.
Unfortunately, the only candidate left is the girl who just told him off. Without her, he’ll never prove to his CEO mother that he’s ready for more responsibility.
Autumn and Caden agree that if they can keep from killing one another, they can use one another to get what they want and then never have to see each other again. Which is what they want.
Until it isn’t.
Because despite her best efforts to scare him off, and his fading desire to push her into the lake, they’re beginning to enjoy the time they spend together. But pride is a hard habit to break. And if neither will admit their changing feelings, they could lose a whole lot more than one summer.
Wowsers! With that, I'll turn it over to Julie!
I’m so excited to be a part of YASH 2017 this Fall. I guess every writer has a moment or two where they dream about their book becoming a movie. I can’t imagine how cool it is to see your characters come to life on the big screen. Now, as a writer, I put words to paper but I’m actually a super visual person. I can see my characters clearly in my head. It’s nearly impossible to find an actor or model to perfectly replicate the person in your mind, but I tried to find some very pretty people who would play the parts well, I’m betting.
Want to see? Okay, thanks! I’ll introduce you. Dream cast of characters coming up. And here we go …
That’s it, you guys. At least, those are the main players on my story. I hope you enjoyed learning a little about my characters (and the actor/model eye candy I’d choose to play them) as much as I enjoyed dreaming about them. Ha ha.
Here’s a fun Pinterest inspiration board I created for my story. If you want to see more, just click on the link below:
And if you should read the book, thank you in advance. I’d love for you to drop me a line on Twitter, Facebook or my blog and tell me what you think. I truly hope you have fun and enjoy the story.
Thanks for playing, hunters! Your next stop on the blue team hunt is L. H. Nicole!
For years, I’ve had a cadre of early readers: a computer programmer, a YA librarian, a middle-school English teacher-turned-attorney, and one author. The Four have edited each of my manuscripts, first as the story is forming, and then as I am polishing the last draft. These people know all my writing tics and weaknesses, and together they spot every mistake.
I love them dearly.
Lately, though, they aren’t enough. The Four are professionals with families and—you know—their own stack of books to read! It would be unfair to ask them to read every paragraph I revise on a whim (except my spouse. Sorry, 1977.)
This summer, in my search for something more, I sought local writers who were willing to read YA and adult contemporary work. Lucky for me, my Seattle neighborhood teems with writers of all stripes.
Now I am one of six. We submit work to one another monthly and gather to critique and talk craft. Together, we write fiction, memoir, and creative nonfiction. We’re penning novels, essays, short stories, book-length memoirs, and personal histories.
If you are a writer, find a critique group. Right now. My critique world has changed my (writing) life.
Each month, five other writers review 2000 – 5000 words I have written. When a character veers off course, they know. When I contradict myself, they know. When my writing is unclear, imprecise, offensive, or plain, they know.
Having another writer critique a manuscript in progress is invaluable. Five others is heavenly.
We five writers approach the table with completely different perspectives. I bring the grammar, syntax, and spelling (and, let’s be frank: those things can be taught.) Kristina sees the world in images and metaphors; I’m trying to borrow her glasses. Meg is a deeply-feeling person, and is emerging as the sounding board for emotionality in a piece. Ruth focuses on structure and story, so she harnesses the big picture. Elisabeth knows when I’m breaking rules and challenges my characters’ motivation. Mary Jean knows details—what is superfluous, what is missing, and what could add to a character or story.
We complement each other. Participating fully forces me to abandon my word-count goal two or three days each month. That sacrifice is absolutely worth it.
Each month, I send my words off into the void and file the work I receive in return. For ten days, their work is a gift. When I need a break from my characters, or when I cannot write another word without clearing my head, I can read a short story, an essay, or a chapter written by these women I now call friends. And we all are better for it. Our work is better for it.
My manuscript in progress is now a whole different beast. In addition to being grammatically correct and character driven, it has feeling. It boasts a strong and nuanced structure. It includes—GASP—metaphors and imagery. It is rich and full, without overflowing. And I couldn’t have done that alone.
This post originally appeared on the Team Rogue YA blog.
I blog rarely, because I'm busy writing books. When I do blog, I focus on writing, friendship, family, and books. Because my family's best nicknames are private, I use their birth years for shorthand: