Welcome to the Spring 2017 YA Scavenger Hunt

I’m so excited to be part of the Young Adult Scavenger Hunt (YASH) yet again, where you can enter to win tons of books by your favorite authors. This bi-annual event was first organized by awesome author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors…and a chance to win some awesome prizes! At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize–one lucky winner will receive one book from each author on the hunt in my team! I’m happy to be part of TEAM RED this time around:

If you’re new to the hunt or need a refresher, go to http://www.yash.rocks/ for all the info.

SCAVENGER HUNT PUZZLE
 
Directions: Below, you’ll notice that I’ve hidden my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the RED team, and then add them up (don’t worry, you can use a calculator!).
Entry Form: Once you’ve added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.
Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by SUNDAY APRIL 9th, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.

After you read the bonus material below, don’t forget to enter the extra giveaway at this blog stop where you can win a copy of the newest Wicked Ink Books anthology which just released April 3, 2017 (details below).

BONUS MATERIAL: 

I’m so excited to be hosting the uber-fabulous Aprilynne Pike on the hunt this year.

Aprilynne Pike is a critically acclaimed, #1 New York Times best-selling author of young adult fiction. At the age of twenty she received her BA in Creative Writing from Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho. When not writing, Aprilynne can usually be found running; she also enjoys singing, acting, reading, and working with pregnant moms as a childbirth educator and doula. Aprilynne lives in Arizona with her husband and their four children. Learn more about Aprilynne at http://www.aprilynnepike.com/.

Aprilynne’s book for the hunt is Earthbound:

As the sole survivor of a plane crash that left her orphaned and injured, Tavia Michaels spends a lot of time in therapy. So when she starts seeing things nobody else can, it’s easy to blame the road to recovery.

Unfortunately for Tavia—and soon, the rest of the world—her troubles have barely begun…

You can find Earthbound on Amazon, and Aprilynne’s bonus material she sent me is a deleted scene:

I don’t mean to steal it.

Well, obviously I mean to. It doesn’t jump into my hands all by itself or anything—though certainly that wouldn’t be the strangest thing that’s happened to me in the last week.

But it wasn’t my plan. I was going to find another way.

Then the woman who’s silently sitting beside me stands and leaves her purse just sitting there. Maybe a foot away.

In my mind I tell myself I’m doing the right thing—that I’ll return it.

Eventually.

But shame burns bright on my cheeks as I scoot over and tuck my arm around the purse. Hug it close to my hip like it’s been mine all along. I wait ten seconds. Long enough for her to realize her mistake and turn around. But her nose is buried in her magazine.

My arm loops through the handles and I stand, pulling the purse against my chest and turning away from its rightful owner.

Walk, Tavia. But it’s strangely difficult. Like strolling through thick molasses. I wait for the yelling, the pointing, the cell phones dialing 9-1-1. Part of me even expects an undercover cop to pull out a gun and point it at me.

But the truth is theft isn’t that hard. No one notices. And if they do, they say nothing.

The end result is that it’s four o’clock in the afternoon and I’m walking down the street, carrying someone else’s purse. I feel utterly superficial telling myself that everything will be better if I can just get a clean hotel, but on some level it’s true. I’ll sleep better, I’ll smell better, I’ll look better, and maybe one night in a decent, fresh, soft bed will help me soften the haggard look in my eyes.

And I promise I’ll put the purse in a box and mail it right back to her. As soon as I study her driver’s license. Figure out how to make one of my own that will pass a hotel clerk’s scrutiny.

And maybe a cop’s too.

Two hours later I’m trembling as I stand in front of the registration desk at a simple Marriott hotel.

“I just need a current credit card and a driver’s license,” the woman chirps, her eyes never leaving the screen.

“I only have cash,” I say nervously. “But I can pay in advance plus a deposit.”

She hesitates, tap-tap-taps on her keyboard a few more times, then nods. “ID?”

I raise my hand and as I do, a plastic rectangle fills my palm and I glance at the clock.

Five minutes.

Sweat trickles down the back of the jacket that I’m wearing—despite the heat—to cover my welt-covered arms. The clerk takes my brand-new driver’s license and sets it on a ledge over her keyboard and continues to tap.

I’m wearing my own face. I went back and forth on that, but figured the check-in process might take longer than five minutes and I can’t refresh my disguise without drawing attention. Very, very bad attention. So, for a little while, I’ll be myself.

And be terrified.

But then, it’s hard to remember the last time I wasn’t terrified.

She glances at the picture, looks up at me over the edge of her glasses—the picture, me, the picture, me. Then her eyebrows go up in what I hope is an expression of approval and she returns to her screen.

“One king-sized okay?”

Okay? I’m ready to jump up and down in glee. I nod silently.

She taps away and as I glance at the clock I feel the heat rise from my belly and creep up my neck. Three minutes. Perspiration is gathering in the hollow of my back and I have to force myself to breathe slower.

“That’ll be $258.00 even plus the $100.00 deposit,” she says with a slight inflection at the end that tells me she expects an argument about the high price.

I couldn’t care less. I hand over four hundreds like it’s nothing. And it may as well be.

Four minutes.

I get my change. My palms itch like mad and not from the bedbugs.

“Just sec, hon.” The woman turns, searching for something or other and my heartbeat flies like hummingbird wings. My eyes remain fixed on my ID and I’m sure this is where everything goes wrong.

She’s wrestling with a box, trying to break the tape that holds it closed. Finally she gets it open with a mutter of satisfaction and sets a box of shiny new key cards beside her monitor. “One or two?” she asks.

“Two,” I reply with my last vestiges of fragile hope. One for him, one for me. Please gods, let it happen.

She scans the keys, tucks them into a little tri-fold packet and begins directing me to the elevator, listing the many conveniences of the hotel available to me. I resist the urge to snatch the keys away.

She proffers the tri-fold with one hand and her other brushes over the edge of her monitor in a smooth, practiced move. She looks down at her empty fingers, confused. “Did I give you your ID?”

I nod, having watched it dissolve into nothingness more than a full minute ago.

She doesn’t pause. Doesn’t sense my lie. She’s just happy to have done her job correctly. So with a lipstick smile she sends me off to the fifth floor.

I don’t have a home anymore—today this is my home. Maybe tomorrow I’ll be somewhere else.

I lean back against the elevator wall and for the small amount of time it will take to reach the fifth floor, I close my eyes and let myself miss him. I don’t do that very often—it would be too easy to get lost in the hurricane of mourning, and never escape.

But for a few moments, I wish . . .

And then the elevator dings.

As soon as I get into the room I pull out one of the plastic bags that lines the trash can and strip off my clothes. I look longingly at my favorite jeans for about two seconds before I catch sight of the reddened bumps on my arms.

I stuff them inside. Everything right down to my underwear. I’m never wearing those clothes again. I grab another bag and shove the first bag in there, tie it shut, and then set the whole parcel outside my door.

This one thing is not my problem anymore. Someone else can deal with it.

An hour later I emerge from a scalding bath and pull on a brand new pair of yoga capris and a T-shirt from the shopping bag I carried in with me. A not-exposed-to-bedbugs plastic bag.

I’ll go shopping for real tomorrow.

I’m feeling a little better. Having clean hair helps. And I came up with a new idea while I was soaking. I’ve always said I do my best thinking in the bathtub.

One more shot. If it doesn’t work I’m back to the land of hopelessness—but not yet.

I have to blink away tears of relief as I pull back the soft comforter and sink down onto clean, white sheets. My life is a nightmare, but maybe, for the next few hours, I can escape into a real dream.

Cool scene, right? Deleted scenes excite me so much that I could eat 11 Cadbury Eggs all at once.

BONUS CONTEST:

Now enter to win a copy of OFF BEAT: Nine Spins on Song in which nine authors (including yours truly) penned speculative fiction short stories inspired by a song. To enter is simple: leave a comment below this post and make sure your email is in there in case you win + 5 bonus entries if you subscribe to my newsletter (right side of this page) and leave the name you used to subscribe in your comment (if it’s different than your comment name). My song for the anthology was inspired by Imagine Dragons and you can check out my story inspiration bonus material on fellow RED TEAM member Michele Bacon’s blog: http://www.michelebacon.com/blog.) 

CONTINUE THE HUNT:

Last but definitely not least: don’t forget to head to the next stop on the hunt, which happens to be my awesome fellow YA Valentine, the lovely Sara B. Larson! Good hunting!

Welcome to the Spring 2017 YASH

I’m so excited to be part of the Young Adult Scavenger Hunt (YASH) yet again, where you can enter to win tons of books by your favorite authors. This bi-annual event was first organized by awesome author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors…and a chance to win some awesome prizes! At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize–one lucky winner will receive one book from each author on the hunt in my team! I’m happy to be part of TEAM RED this time around:

If you’re new to the hunt or need a refresher, go to http://www.yash.rocks/ for all the info.

SCAVENGER HUNT PUZZLE
 
Directions: Below, you’ll notice that I’ve hidden my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the RED team, and then add them up (don’t worry, you can use a calculator!).
Entry Form: Once you’ve added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.
Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by SUNDAY APRIL 9th, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.

After you read the bonus material below, don’t forget to enter the extra giveaway at this blog stop where you can win a copy of the newest Wicked Ink Books anthology which just released April 3, 2017 (details below).

BONUS MATERIAL: 

I’m so excited to be hosting the uber-fabulous Aprilynne Pike on the hunt this year.

Aprilynne Pike is a critically acclaimed, #1 New York Times best-selling author of young adult fiction. At the age of twenty she received her BA in Creative Writing from Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho. When not writing, Aprilynne can usually be found running; she also enjoys singing, acting, reading, and working with pregnant moms as a childbirth educator and doula. Aprilynne lives in Arizona with her husband and their four children. Learn more about Aprilynne at http://www.aprilynnepike.com/.

Aprilynne’s book for the hunt is Earthbound:

As the sole survivor of a plane crash that left her orphaned and injured, Tavia Michaels spends a lot of time in therapy. So when she starts seeing things nobody else can, it’s easy to blame the road to recovery.

Unfortunately for Tavia—and soon, the rest of the world—her troubles have barely begun…

You can find Earthbound on Amazon, and Aprilynne’s bonus material she sent me is a deleted scene:

I don’t mean to steal it.

Well, obviously I mean to. It doesn’t jump into my hands all by itself or anything—though certainly that wouldn’t be the strangest thing that’s happened to me in the last week.

But it wasn’t my plan. I was going to find another way.

Then the woman who’s silently sitting beside me stands and leaves her purse just sitting there. Maybe a foot away.

In my mind I tell myself I’m doing the right thing—that I’ll return it.

Eventually.

But shame burns bright on my cheeks as I scoot over and tuck my arm around the purse. Hug it close to my hip like it’s been mine all along. I wait ten seconds. Long enough for her to realize her mistake and turn around. But her nose is buried in her magazine.

My arm loops through the handles and I stand, pulling the purse against my chest and turning away from its rightful owner.

Walk, Tavia. But it’s strangely difficult. Like strolling through thick molasses. I wait for the yelling, the pointing, the cell phones dialing 9-1-1. Part of me even expects an undercover cop to pull out a gun and point it at me.

But the truth is theft isn’t that hard. No one notices. And if they do, they say nothing.

The end result is that it’s four o’clock in the afternoon and I’m walking down the street, carrying someone else’s purse. I feel utterly superficial telling myself that everything will be better if I can just get a clean hotel, but on some level it’s true. I’ll sleep better, I’ll smell better, I’ll look better, and maybe one night in a decent, fresh, soft bed will help me soften the haggard look in my eyes.

And I promise I’ll put the purse in a box and mail it right back to her. As soon as I study her driver’s license. Figure out how to make one of my own that will pass a hotel clerk’s scrutiny.

And maybe a cop’s too.

Two hours later I’m trembling as I stand in front of the registration desk at a simple Marriott hotel.

“I just need a current credit card and a driver’s license,” the woman chirps, her eyes never leaving the screen.

“I only have cash,” I say nervously. “But I can pay in advance plus a deposit.”

She hesitates, tap-tap-taps on her keyboard a few more times, then nods. “ID?”

I raise my hand and as I do, a plastic rectangle fills my palm and I glance at the clock.

Five minutes.

Sweat trickles down the back of the jacket that I’m wearing—despite the heat—to cover my welt-covered arms. The clerk takes my brand-new driver’s license and sets it on a ledge over her keyboard and continues to tap.

I’m wearing my own face. I went back and forth on that, but figured the check-in process might take longer than five minutes and I can’t refresh my disguise without drawing attention. Very, very bad attention. So, for a little while, I’ll be myself.

And be terrified.

But then, it’s hard to remember the last time I wasn’t terrified.

She glances at the picture, looks up at me over the edge of her glasses—the picture, me, the picture, me. Then her eyebrows go up in what I hope is an expression of approval and she returns to her screen.

“One king-sized okay?”

Okay? I’m ready to jump up and down in glee. I nod silently.

She taps away and as I glance at the clock I feel the heat rise from my belly and creep up my neck. Three minutes. Perspiration is gathering in the hollow of my back and I have to force myself to breathe slower.

“That’ll be $258.00 even plus the $100.00 deposit,” she says with a slight inflection at the end that tells me she expects an argument about the high price.

I couldn’t care less. I hand over four hundreds like it’s nothing. And it may as well be.

Four minutes.

I get my change. My palms itch like mad and not from the bedbugs.

“Just sec, hon.” The woman turns, searching for something or other and my heartbeat flies like hummingbird wings. My eyes remain fixed on my ID and I’m sure this is where everything goes wrong.

She’s wrestling with a box, trying to break the tape that holds it closed. Finally she gets it open with a mutter of satisfaction and sets a box of shiny new key cards beside her monitor. “One or two?” she asks.

“Two,” I reply with my last vestiges of fragile hope. One for him, one for me. Please gods, let it happen.

She scans the keys, tucks them into a little tri-fold packet and begins directing me to the elevator, listing the many conveniences of the hotel available to me. I resist the urge to snatch the keys away.

She proffers the tri-fold with one hand and her other brushes over the edge of her monitor in a smooth, practiced move. She looks down at her empty fingers, confused. “Did I give you your ID?”

I nod, having watched it dissolve into nothingness more than a full minute ago.

She doesn’t pause. Doesn’t sense my lie. She’s just happy to have done her job correctly. So with a lipstick smile she sends me off to the fifth floor.

I don’t have a home anymore—today this is my home. Maybe tomorrow I’ll be somewhere else.

I lean back against the elevator wall and for the small amount of time it will take to reach the fifth floor, I close my eyes and let myself miss him. I don’t do that very often—it would be too easy to get lost in the hurricane of mourning, and never escape.

But for a few moments, I wish . . .

And then the elevator dings.

As soon as I get into the room I pull out one of the plastic bags that lines the trash can and strip off my clothes. I look longingly at my favorite jeans for about two seconds before I catch sight of the reddened bumps on my arms.

I stuff them inside. Everything right down to my underwear. I’m never wearing those clothes again. I grab another bag and shove the first bag in there, tie it shut, and then set the whole parcel outside my door.

This one thing is not my problem anymore. Someone else can deal with it.

An hour later I emerge from a scalding bath and pull on a brand new pair of yoga capris and a T-shirt from the shopping bag I carried in with me. A not-exposed-to-bedbugs plastic bag.

I’ll go shopping for real tomorrow.

I’m feeling a little better. Having clean hair helps. And I came up with a new idea while I was soaking. I’ve always said I do my best thinking in the bathtub.

One more shot. If it doesn’t work I’m back to the land of hopelessness—but not yet.

I have to blink away tears of relief as I pull back the soft comforter and sink down onto clean, white sheets. My life is a nightmare, but maybe, for the next few hours, I can escape into a real dream.

Cool scene, right? Deleted scenes excite me so much that I could eat 11 Cadbury Eggs all at once.

BONUS CONTEST:

Now enter to win a copy of OFF BEAT: Nine Spins on Song in which nine authors (including yours truly) penned speculative fiction short stories inspired by a song. To enter is simple: leave a comment below this post and make sure your email is in there in case you win + 5 bonus entries if you subscribe to my newsletter (right side of this page) and leave the name you used to subscribe in your comment (if it’s different than your comment name). My song for the anthology was inspired by Imagine Dragons and you can check out my story inspiration bonus material on fellow RED TEAM member Michele Bacon’s blog: http://www.michelebacon.com/blog.) 

 

CONTINUE THE HUNT:

Last but definitely not least: don’t forget to head to the next stop on the hunt, which happens to be my awesome fellow YA Valentine, the lovely Sara B. Larson! Good hunting!

On Writing, Star Wars, and Politics

 

This is a long post, so here we go. The recent election has stirred up a lot of emotions and thoughts about where our country is headed, and it brought up questions on social media about whether it was wise for authors to voice their opinions versus keep their heads down and focus on “entertaining people.” One author wisely noted that “all art is inherently political,” and I agree with that. Over Christmas break, my family went to see Star Wars: Rogue One. We all loved it (though my son had an issue with the ending that I won’t spoil here), but the entire Star Wars franchise is heavily political with rebel forces fighting against a fascist government. We even have an incoming member of the president’s administration who used Star Wars as an analogy when he proudly compared himself to Darth Vader. Let that one sink in a minute. Anyway, the Star Wars franchise is entertaining, but also tackles serious issues regarding government and the cost of a “free” society.

What do politics have to do with YA books? A lot. Pick any YA book and there’s an issue in there somewhere. My Burn Out series explores an oppressive government set in an apocalyptic world, while a new book I’m writing examines the dark side of our youth correctional system. I have a YA urban fantasy coming out this year about a serial killer stalking faeries who bind their wings out of fear in an attempt to look human. It’s creepy, and hopefully entertaining, but also addresses the prejudice that faeries experience by humans, and oh yeah, they have to register with the government. A writer’s words are a form of expression the same way a sculpture or painting is for an artist. It’s entertainment—with a purpose.

So why am I and other authors talking more about political views on social media, rather than just sticking to book and candy tweets? Well, here’s one of many reasons. Our anthology through Wicked Ink Books (Tick Tock: 7 Tales of Time) almost did not come out in Turkey, because last summer, 29 publishers were closed down by the Turkish government in an attempt to repress free speech. Now, journalists and free speech are under attack in our own nation and you know it’s not good when the Turkish leader praises how our incoming president handles the press. Therefore, it’s more important to me to speak out to help ensure we still have publishers and a free press, so there can be more books in the world. When threats to basic rights like freedom of speech are on the table, my tweets about Cadbury Eggs will just have to wait for happier times.

I think authors have a responsibility to use their words when necessary, and I’m also a psychologist who feels a responsibility to be a voice for the marginalized and others who feel they are not heard. Though I’m one of the 20-30 million who will be impacted by the repeal of Obamacare, which due to a pre-existing condition was the first time in my life I could get health insurance on my own, I’m not as concerned about myself as I am for others. I’m very concerned for the millions of children out there with diseases, and the millions of adults with life-threatening conditions, many of whom will die without ACA. And here’s a really political statement for you: I believe someone is the worst kind of hypocrite to call themselves a “pro-life Christian” but only when it refers to the unborn, and then vote for millions of children and adults to die by taking away their health insurance. That’s the exact opposite of Christ-like behavior and I’m not overly religious, but I hope there’s a special place in hell for those people. I refuse to be quiet about children and other vulnerable people dying, no matter what someone else thinks.

But won’t you lose readers? As to the argument that voicing your beliefs could cost you readers, well, here’s the thing about that. The people out there who are white supremacists, homophobic, or sexist would hate my books anyway. Like really hate them, as they include strong kick-ass females, diversity, and LGBT characters. I believe that all people are created equal, which is, in fact, one of the main tenets of our nation’s Declaration of Independence. I’m not against any political party. In fact, I live in a conservative county inside a mostly blue state, and have a mix of Republican, Democrat, and other party friends, but here’s what I am against: fascism, racism, sexism, and all the other -isms that oppress any groups of people. If you support hate, I don’t want you buying my books anyway.

What am I doing in addition to writing? I’m still writing because it is a much needed outlet right now, but my main goals right now are speaking out, standing up, and fighting back. Ironically, I’m now part of a group called The Resistance who oppose a fascist society, and if you have read Burn Out, you know it involves a group named… wait for it… The Resistance, who fights a government that uses terror and weapons to keep order. I wrote that book years ago, and truly thought I was making up a “worst case scenario” at the time. Thank you, life, for imitating art and once again reminding us that truth will always be stranger than fiction.

Final thoughts: Before this election took place, I was speaking on a panel at Comic Con, and someone asked about the issue of authors openly addressing political views. Though I had no idea what was to come in November, I quoted Spider Man to this person (because if you know me, of course I did), and said “With great power, comes great responsibility.” Writers with a platform or audience of any kind have some power, and therefore have a responsibility (IMHO) to use that power for good. A bonus to speaking out more has been a “yuge” increase in social media followers of people who share my passion for this country. When I recently expressed feeling exhausted about speaking out so much, a fellow author wrote to me and said, “We need you right now. Please keep going.” So I will. And I will be there for my fellow authors who are also tired, for my fellow citizens who are scared or angry, and for my fellow Resistance members who are determined and brave—because I am all of these things too. Sometimes all at once. Above all, be kind to each other, stand up for your neighbor’s rights as well as your own, and remember that we will always be strongest when we stand together. May the Force be with you all!