YA Scavenger Hunt – Fall 2015!


Welcome to YA Scavenger Hunt! This bi-annual event was first organized by 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! On this Fall 2015 hunt, you will get access to exclusive content from160 authors divided into eight teams of 20.I am on TEAM TEAL, and if you visit all 20 authors on my team and add up our clues, you can enter for our prize–one lucky winner will receiveone signed book from each author on my team!Many of us, including me, are offering additional prizes as well.But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for 72 hours!



Go to the YA Scavenger Huntsiteto find out all about the hunt,including the listsof participating authors, the prize lists, and more!


For now, here’s the quick and dirty directions:
The Puzzle:Below, you’ll notice that I’ve listed myfavorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors onteam teal, and then add them up.
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 October 5th, 2015, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.




Shari Becker was born in Montreal, Quebec, and was raised speaking both English and French. As a child, she spent her summers in the Adirondack Mountains catching fireflies, minnows, and toads. She has an MA from New York University and has worked for Nickelodeon, for Disney-owned companies, and even for an Emmy Awardwinning puppeteer. She is the author of two picture books, including Maxwells Mountain, a Junior Library Guild Selection and Charlotte Zolotow Honor Book. She now lives in Brookline, Massachusetts, with her husband, their two daughters, and their dog. She loves lakes, but despises the bridges that run over them.


About Shari’s latest book, Stellow Project:STELLOW PROJECT
When a killer storm unexpectedly hits Manhattan, seventeen-year-old Lilah Stellows dad insists that she and her younger sister, Flori, take refuge at their cabin in the mountains. But instead of joining them with the experimental drug that keeps Lilah alive, he disappears just as news reports name him as a prime suspect in an act of ecoterrorism.As days pass without her medicine, Lilah finds herself teetering on the edge, caring for her sister, and growing increasingly certain theyre being watched. In her search for answers, Lilah is thrown into the center of a mystery involving an off-the-grid research facility and finds herself drawn in by Daniel, an intriguing boy who is the son of the lead scientist. As she dares to seek answers, Lilah slowly realizes that even the best intentions can go horribly wrong.


Find out more information by checking outShari’swebsite or find more about Stellow Projecthere!

As her exclusive content Shari offers a sneak peek ather paranormal work-in-progress called Indigo. So without further ado . . .

Ellie ran her fingers through her blue streaks. Theyd faded to an aquatic shade of turquoise, which she kinda liked. Too bad shed have to change them now. Maybe red. She hadnt done red in a while. The sun shifted outside her room sending a beam of light directly onto her scalp. It was like a spotlight, taunting her.

Oh God, Ellie thought. No. No!

She leaned into the mirror to look closer. There was no mistaking them. More grey roots, this time in a clump, right above her right ear. Ellie could feel her throat beginning to close. She gagged, trying to push away the Im going to cry feeling.

As if having grey hair wasnt bad enough. But new roots, in a clump that was a sign.

The doctors told her she was crazy, but she knew they were wrong. Okay, maybe she was a little crazy, but she was right about this. All these brilliant medical experts were so quick to diagnose her with all sorts of syndromes and ailments, but when she pointed out the obvious – that the grey always came a day or two before – they snorted, as if her powers of perception and deduction were so comical and naive they werent even worth considering.

Ellie tried to regulate her breathing. I have a few days, she thought. Maybe three, maybe four. Ill be prepared this time. Itll be different. She hoped she was right.

She was wrong last time.

And the time before.

Ellie glanced at the clock and then back at the grey. She couldnt go out like this. Blue was better than grey. Red was better than grey. Better to be different by choice than by bad luck.

Ellie grabbed her already open Head Goop and smeared gobs into her hair, creating clumps. There was an art to creating hair that looked perfectly messy. Between the sheen of the pomade and careful planning. Maybe no one would notice.

Ellie shook her head from side to side, the clumps holding together like long potato roots. She pulled her Doc Martin boots over her green and white striped knee socks, stood up and adjusted her fringed jean shorts. Her outfit looked frickin awesome. Like a punk meets My Little Pony or something. She was lucky her parents didn’t care about things like clothes and hair. Her mom believed in self expression, at least that’s what she’d said. She never said anything about any of Ellie’s outfits, but sometimes she could swear she could see the corners of her mom’s mouth turn up, just a bit, as if amused, by Ellie’s choices. Some kids might have thought she was super lucky, but she knew better. Ellie’s parents didn’t care about outfits because they had bigger things to worry about: a daughter who heard voices, a daughter convinced she was possessed, a daughter with one foot into a psych ward – for an extended stay.

She grinned just a little as she grabbed her backpack, thinking about the looks on her parents faces when theyd see her get-up. The minute shed walk out the door, her mother would scream,James, did you see what she wore today?

And then she felt it. The roll of her belly. Queasiness. God no. She grabbed onto the back of her desk chair. Please no. It was too soon.

She should have had at least a day. Maybe two. Thats how these attacks always went. First the grey appeared. It started at her roots, and it spread, slowly from tip to end. It usually took at least two days to cover the whole piece. The attacks came only after the hair was full grey. Ellie leaned into her mirror. The grey was still at the roots. It couldn’t be an attack. It was too fast. She couldnt have another today. Hell, she couldnt have another one ever. It was like this force crawled into her and turned the volume up on every single organ and sense in her body. In the beginning, the attacks were mild: she could feel every woven thread in the fabric of her clothing. She could smell every single ingredient in her face soap. She could hear the expanding and contracting of her lungs, like some tiny, relentless whistle inside of her. But that was then. Now, the attacks were incapacitating. She threw up, she blacked out, she heard voices. Voices that seemed to come from places and things that werent supposed to speak.

Ellie stood tall and tried to breathe slowly through her nostrils. No, it wasnt an attack. The grey was still at the roots. It was her pomade. The smell was too strong. She knew it when she bought it, but shed let vanity trump logic. Smells were dangerous. She should wash her hair. If she washed the Pomade out, got rid of the smell. Shed be okay.

Ellie glanced at the clock. 7:45. She was meeting KP at the corner. Shed be late. Again. She had a history test this morning, too. Shit, no time for a shower. She had back-to-back classes today, and it would be impossible to get to the school gym showers. She would have to wash the smell out in a bathroom sink at school. It would all be okay.

The smell of eggs and oatmeal filled the staircase as she made her way down. These smells didn’t turn her stomach. These smells enveloped her up in a cozy blanket. She wished she could go into the kitchen, wrap herself in the safety of her mother and breakfast. But she couldn’t. Her mother would take one look at her and know something was wrong. If she saw the way Ellie was rubbing her temples with her palms . Theyd made a deal. And Ellie knew she had to keep it.

Hand clenched on the railing.

Ellie, breakfast is ready! Her mom called from the kitchen.

Sorry Mom, Ellie tried to keep her voice even. Her mother could not know. No way. Shed promised. She swore. No More.

Im totally late. History test this morning. KP and I are studying on the way

But Ellie her mother began.

Ellie knew what shed say. The doctors said a full breakfast would help: that protein would keep her brain clear. What about your vitamins?

A loud beat shuddered through Ellies ears. Her heart beat at volume 20. What if is wasnt the pomade?

Ellie closed the front door before her mother could even see her. The skin on her legs was beginning to crawl: prickling and scratching from the seams of her socks.

An attack was beginning, and Ellie had no choice but to stop it.


Don’t forget to enter the contest for a chance to win 20signed books by the authors on TEAM TEAL! To enter, you need to know that my favorite number isFIVE (5).Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on TEAM TEALand you’ll have the secret code to enter for the grand prize!

If you like, you can also enter my giveaway for a signed copy of my debut novel In A World Just Right. Just click on the Rafflecopter link below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


To keep going on the hunt, check out the next author!


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YA Scavenger Hunt!

YASH-circle-background-2 (1)

Welcome to YA Scavenger Hunt! This bi-annual event was first organized by 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 receiveone signed book from each author on the hunt on my team!But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for 72 hours!

Green Team (2)Go to the YA Scavenger Huntpage to find out all about the hunt. There are EIGHTcontests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the GREENTEAM–but there is also a blue team, a pinkteam, a gold team, a redteam, an orangeteam, a teal team, and a purpleteam for a chance to win a whole different set of signed books!

If you’d like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.

To add to the celebration, I’m giving away a signed ARC of my forthcoming YA novel, In A World Just Right. You can enter for the ARC below. Make sure as you continue to blog hop that you’re on the lookout for other individual author prizes being offered in addition to the YASH grand prizes!


Directions: Below, you’ll need to find where I’ve written myfavorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the green team, and then add them up.

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 April 5th, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.



Colleen GleasonToday I’m hosting Colleen Gleasonfor the YA Scavenger Hunt!

Colleen is a New York Times bestselling author with more than two dozen novels in print, including the international bestselling paranormal romance series The Gardella Vampire Chroniclesabout a female vampire hunter who lives during the time of Jane Austen.


The Spiritglass Charade


Evaline Stoker and Mina Holmes never meant to get into the family business. But when youre the sister of Bram and the niece of Sherlock, vampire hunting and mystery solving are in your blood.


Find out more by checking out Colleen’sauthor website here, and find more about her book here!




S&H YASH True or False


Don’t forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of signed books by me, Colleen Gleason, and more! To enter, you need to know that my favorite number is 5. Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the green team, and you’ll have the secret code to enter for the grand prize!


To keep going on your quest for the hunt, you need to check out the next author, Vanessa Barger!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Meet Jake Smith

I’ve met a lot of people on this publishing road, and Jake Smith is one of the classiest. His novel, Wish, was released in May ofthis year from Tyndale House Publishers, and it tugs just as many heartstrings as you would think from this description:

Wish coverJames McConnells one wish is that his nine-year-old son will finally be healthy enough to play a game of catch. Then he and his wife, Emily, receive news theyve dreaded: Aarons cancer has relapsed. As the family steels themselves for a draining treatment regimen in yet another hospital, Aaron receives the gift of a lifetimea personal visit from one of his favorite professional baseball playersand the chance to make a bold request, his wish: to see his dad play in one major leaguegame. A former college standout, James fears he doesnt have the talent it takes, even for one game, and that hell miss what could be Aarons precious last weeks. Yet how can he refuse his dying sons wish? Poignant and triumphant, Wish is the story of a fathers love, a familys perseverance, and the miracles that can happen when you believe in the impossible.

Because I love this book so much, I asked Jake if he’d answer a few questions, and he obliged:

Talk a bit about the genesis of Wish.

The image for Wish a young father, standing alone in the middle of a Major League Baseball field, under the lights, the crowd going crazy, and hes wondering how in the world he got there came out of necessity. Id just tallied my hundred-and-something rejection for a YA science fiction novel I was querying, when I said out loud, All right, I get it Im not supposed to work on this one. So what else should I write about? That image flashed in my head.

At about the same time, we were watching a Detroit Tigers baseball game, and one of our favorite players hit a home run; and as hes rounding the bases, the announcers begin talking about a little boy that player had visited in the hospital earlier in the day. Thats when the idea of this unbelieveable experience this father has, of playing in one MLB game, comes about because of a wish from his ill son.


What kind of research did you do in order to write Wish?

Im a baseball nut to begin with, playing a lot in high school and helping as an assistant coach at my alma mater a handful of years ago. I talked with some former Major Leaguers (including the player who hit that home run I mentioned before), and had another former player and current ESPN baseball analyst, Doug Glanville, review the manuscript. On the medical side, I had several chats with pediatric oncologists, hospital administrators, and families who have fought childhood leukemia with their children, all so very powerful. Tours of a couple of childrens hospitals and the behind the scenes of Comerica Park (home of the Detroit Tigers) and another Minor League Baseball park provided a dose of realism that proved invaluable.


You’ve been described as a man who writes “fiction with a mission.” What does that mean? What is the “mission” for Wish?

Wish is more than just a story. As soon as I thought of the ill child, I thought, Well, if this works, we could use it to do some good. Which is exactly what weve been able to do, donating a large chunk of proceeds to childrens hospitals around Michigan, and inspiring people to join the bone marrow registry at My kids are, thankfully, healthy, so I feel Ive been called to use whatever gifts I might have telling a story to do as much good as possible. Its been one of the most unbelievable experiences of my life to receive letters from readers who tell me that as soon as they finished reading Wish, they signed up on the registry. The only thing that could eclipse that is if someone actually matched a person in need and went on to save their life. Ive been on the registry for nearly 15 years, and Ive never been called to donate; what a wonderful feeling that must be!


Describe your path to publication. What has been your greatest challenge? Greatest triumph?

Wish tallied 55 rejections before finding an agent and to do that, it took a friend-of-a-friend referral to an agent, an agent whose call I screened when he called the house that night! (Its true; I thought he was a telemarketer.) From three years of writing letters and receiving Sorry, not for us letters, to a whirlwind 24 hours, and I had an agent. After two lengthy revisions, it went out to publishers, and we received an offer. It was a little more than three months from signing with my agent to receiving an offer from Tyndale House Publishers.

Greatest challenge: the second revision, in which I had to try to fix my bad writing habit of using too many passive words (in the end, I feel it made me a better writer).

Greatest triumph(s): opening the box of hardcovers and seeing my name, writing donation checks to hospitals, and getting that first letter saying that someone signed up on the bone marrow registry because of Wish.


What are some books that have had an influence on you? or What are some of your favorite books/authors?

I wish I could give you the name of an obscure writer so that people would run to the bookstore to search for it, but in truth, The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings probably had the biggest influence on me for one reason: they sparked my imagination. Ive always felt that imagination is one of the most important thing youngsters especially teenagers can develop, because imagination leads to ambition, which leads to perseverance. Thats why Im so thrilled about the amazing world of Young Adult literature these days so many fabulous stories and storytellers (like you!) for kids to absolutely lose themselves in.

Authors Dan Walsh, Jason F. Wright, and Kevin Milne (all in my genre of inspiring, family- and faith-based fiction; and all gracious enough to provide cover blurbs for Wish) have been great sources of inspiration. And Im a fan of Doug Stanton as well, and his ability to treat a non-fiction event (war stories) with a novel-esque style. The way he applies his research is incredible.


What advice would you give to other writers?

Develop a process for editing. Its tough to like your story during the editing phase, but if you compartmentalize your editing take different aspects of the story in different phases the process can go a little smoother. I do a chapter edit as soon as Im done writing a chapter; then when the manuscript is done, I do a content edit; a mechanical edit (grammar, punctuation, etc.); a bad-writing habit edit (see above); an out loud edit (reading the book out loud, great for identifying run-on sentences, missing or repetitive or improper words, and for dialogue); and then one more story edit.


What ritual/charm/beverage do you require in order to sit down and write?

I have a fountain pen my dad gave me as a college graduation present, saying, From one writer to another. (Hes a well-known outdoor book and magazine author and editor.) I confess that I never really felt like I could call myself a writer until I sold a piece of my fiction. I used that pen to sign the publishing contract for Wish. So I sort of hold that pen and say a prayer for an open mind and a vivid imagination. And I listen to a lot of movie soundtracks.


You are working on a new novel project now. Can you tell us a little about it?

Its another fiction with a mission book, this one revolving around high school basketball, dogs, and the military. Some of my research has been pretty emotional so far. Im only a few chapters into it, and its a bit more difficult to write. With Wish, I didnt have any expectations or timelines; now, I feel all of these things looking over my shoulder!


Thank you, Jake! I loved Wish and look forward to reading your next book!


Jake SmithJake Smith is an author and magazine editor who lives in Traverse City, Michigan, with his wife, Vickie, their three children, and a Labrador retriever. A former assistant high school baseball coach and All-State shortstop, Jake now spends his time on the field helping coach his kids youth baseball teams.Wish is Jakes debut novel, and he hopes it will help support childrens hospitals, patient and family foundations, and participation in the National Marrow Donor Program.


Find Jake on his website, Facebook, Twitter.

Find Wishon Amazon.



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Thoughts after reading Insurgent

A small storm of thoughts have converged on me today as the result of three occurrences: 1) Yesterday I finished reading Insurgent, 2) I am disheartened by some of the response to the choosing of Miss America, 3) I am ever mindful of the place YA literature has/should have in the high school classroom.

Whenever I read a book, I think about what students could gain from reading it. In this frame of mind, I noted the following passages from Veronica Roths Insurgent:

People, I have discovered, are layers and layers of secrets. You believe you know them, that you understand them, but their motives are always hidden from you, buried in their own hearts. You will never know them, but sometimes you decide to trust them (510).

Color fills her cheeks, and I think it again: that Johanna Reyes might still be beautiful. Except now I think that she isnt just beautiful in spite of the scar, shes somehow beautiful with it, like Lynn with her buzzed hair, like Tobias with the memories of his fathers cruelty that he wears like armor, like my mother in her plain gray clothing (517).

If this book were read in my classroom, I would ask students to explain what they thought each passage meant in the context of the book. Then I would ask how they could apply this meaning to what they know of life.

How valuable it would be for young people to reflect upon their knowledge of othersfriends, family, acquaintances, strangersand on what they can or cannot truly know about them. How valuable to reflect upon what they choose to share with others and what others can never really know of them. Or upon how they can trust people whose motives may or may not be transparent to them. Or upon beauty and whether it might possibly stem from what people become because they have suffered.

Despite the usefulness I see of including such a book and such a discussion in a high school classroom, I have personally witnessed some educators dismissal of contemporary YA works as worthless, simple, or too focused on kissing, popularity, and vampires. Can such an attitude be espoused by a person who has read a book like Insurgent and discussed with students the passages quoted above? I have a hard time believing so.

The truth is that high school students possess many resources that will make meaning of canonical textsfor them. The teacher will do it in the classroom. The internet will do it outside the classroom. With so many answers out there, the sad truth is that many students choose not to read the challenging, original text at all. If they dont read the text, they cant make their own meaning.

One of the primary values of YA literature, to me, besides its presentation as less daunting than a canonical tome, is the use of a young adult protagonists perspective to make it easier for the young reader to make their own meaning.

When I read comments about in Indian-American becoming Miss America that call her a Muslim terrorist, or bemoan the fact that she was chosen just after the anniversary of 9/11, or that another, whiter candidate is somehow more American because she can shoot a gun and loves her country, I think of the chance that might have been missed when these commenters were in high school, what truths they might have discovered if they hadnt been forced to accept a teachers interpretation of a canonical text, but instead had been asked to read and discuss YA literature that delivered messages about being human in a way that could help them make meaning for themselves.

I believe that texts read in schools should be challenging, but I dont necessarily believe that for a young audience they should be challenging for their obscure language, sophisticated art, or esoteric philosophy. Many, many young people, to be sure, have the skills and aptitude to handle the canon independently or with minimal guidance, and I strongly believe all students should experience the canon. However, I feel there is a challenge even greater than the one to stretch a vocabulary or appreciate brilliant figures of speech. It is the challenge to ones ideas and beliefs about the world. For many, many students, YA literature is the very best vehicle to help them rise to that challenge.

I realize that this post probably seems self-serving because I’m now going to be a published writer of YA literature. However, my belief in the power of contemporary YA books predates my decision to write them. I write because I hope something I have to say will challenge young people to examine, then confirm or revise, their ideas and beliefs.

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Where Im at Part 6: Offer accepted!

So this not-quite-published-yet writer is one giant step closer to having a book in print. For me, it was not the one-week whirlwind that it sometimes can be, but in the end I got a deal that Im happy with. Excited about! THRILLED, really!

The brief tale goes like this: I signed with my agent, Alexandra Machinist at Janklow and Nesbit, last summer. I waited in line for a bit for World Maker to be submitted to editors. In January, Alexandra sent the manuscript to an editor as an exclusive because said editor had been looking for something like World Maker. The editor liked it and asked me to revise a significant aspect of the novel, which I did. On May 2nd, I was told shed decided to pass on making an offer.

In mid-May Alexandra sent the manuscript out to six editors. In the first week of June, Christian Trimmer at Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers expressed interest. He took it to his editorial team and then requested a revision from me. I was, admittedly, nervous about doing another revision since the revision for the other editor had taken up so much time only to be rejected. But Christian convinced me he was enthusiastic about the project, he was good at articulating what he wanted changed, and the revision focused only on the first couple of chapters. In the end, I simply moved a scene from chapter two to the opening and tweaked accordingly. Over the next few weeks Christian read my revision, gave the manuscript to second readers in the editorial department and, Im assuming, took it to another editorial meeting where the changes were approved. The next week it went on to the acquisitions meeting, where an offer was approved. My agent did some negotiating, and I ended up with a two-book deal and a great editor at a great publishing house!

(Here is the Publishers Weekly announcement, if you like to look these things up.)

Although it took some time to get the ball rolling, sometimes patience is necessary to get the end result you want. I couldnt be happier with the result I got.

World Maker likely wont be published until 2015, so there is yet more waiting to do. While I wait for my editorial letter on World Maker (which will likely be given a new title), I must get to work on an outline for book two of my two-book deal. Remember that post I wrote a little while ago about an idea I got while going for popcorn? The idea is barely 1,000 words of notes, but thats the book I sold with World Maker!

I must conclude with a HUGE THANK YOU to Alexandra Machinist and Christian Trimmer. My little book is a little different, a little hard to pitch because although its about a boy who makes a world so he can have a girlfriend, its more than that description would lead one to believe. Both Alexandra and Christian saw something in it that made them read to the end, and in reading to the end they decided to become champions of the manuscript, and I cant quite express in accurate enough terms how very much that means to me.

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Yes, she thought, laying down her brush in extreme fatigue, I have had my vision.

— Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse