Thursday, October 2, 2014

YASH Scavenger Hunt! Welcome to Team Orange and Suzanne Lazear's Extra Content!!


Bam! You're here because you are a dedicated reader of YA fiction and are in search of great new reads! Right? Right! So let's not dilly dally - if you're not familiar with the Hunt - then pop over HERE for all the details.

This site (and me, coincidentally) are part of TEAM ORANGE.

What's really unbelievable—this year there are six teams in the hunt. Six ways to win incredible prize packages and read tons of fun extra content!!

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.

SCAVENGER HUNT PUZZLE

Directions: Below, you'll notice that I've listed my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the ORANGE 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 October 5th, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.

SCAVENGER HUNT POST

Today, I am hosting Suzanne Lazear on my website for the YA Scavenger Hunt! Suzanne Lazear is the author of the YA fairytale steampunk series The Aether Chronicles. INNOCENT DARKNESS and CHARMED VENGEANCE are FRAGILE DESTINY. Suzanne lives in Southern California with her daughter and the hubby where she’s currently attempting to make a raygun to match her ballgown. She’s also part of the Steampunk group blog Steamed http://wwww.ageofsteam.wordpress.com Learn more about the Aether Chronicles at http://www.aetherchronicles.com


Find out more information by checking out the author website or find more about the author's book here

EXCLUSIVE CONTENT


Noli and her true love V fear the worst if the Staff of Eris—a potent Otherworld relic—falls into the wrong hands. Broken into pieces and hidden in the mortal realm long ago, the staff bestows vast powers on whoever possesses it. Ciarán, the dark king, is trying to rebuild the staff, intending to use it to install a new queen.

In a desperate effort to keep the Otherworld from falling into darkness, Noli and V plot the daring theft of a jewel Ciarán needs to complete the staff. But Ciarán is not so easily defeated. Through his devious machinations, he has set a plan in motion for a final showdown that will decide who rules the Otherworld once and for all.

DELETED SCENE!!!!

~Cut Scene from FRAGILE DESTINY~
Author’s Note: Originally, I had Noli herself deliver the letter she asked Aodhan to write in chapter Twenty Six. Even though I really liked the interaction between Noli and the Dark
King, and the appearance of Aire, this scene was ultimately cut because everything in it could be accomplished in a quicker, briefer fashion.

Noli changed into a plain dress and put an equally plain cloak around her shoulders. She glanced at V, who slept quietly. As much as she hated to sneak out like this, she didn’t know what else to do.
It had been days and Noli still hadn’t heard from Ciarán. Granted, they’d been busy days, filled with trying to repair the damage the attack had wroughton the castle, the people, their reputation. They couldn’t prove who had sent the salamanders, but they had proved that the fire court and dark court hadn’t been behind it.
This made Elric and others muttered about rebels and dissenters and secret fire court plots. Not that Noli expected to be able to prove Tiana had been behind it, but deep down knew she had done itand even V agreed it was a possibility.
V didn’t seem to think Ciarán’s silence was a problem. Also, she didn’t really want Bran to know the full extent of this—the artifact, Aodhan’s parentage, the fact that she thought they could be allies.
Aodhan’s presence made Elise happy, and hearing their laughter and seeing them run and play made her think of her and V when they were that age. But the boy needed his father.
Given what she’d seen today, having the boy here was as dangerous as letting Elise go visit Tiana.
This meant she needed to deliver Aodhans letter herself. If this didnt garner a response from the dark king, she didnt know what would.
Grabbing her sword and her boots, she crept out of her room and into the hallway.
“Is this why you asked about secret exits?” James stood there, dressed, boots in hand, sword at his side.
“Maybe.” She gave him a long look.
“I’m going.” He gave her a nod that tried to be stern.
“Fine.” Actually taking James mig
ht be a good idea. Then they could talk.
“Then let’s go. V will be angry if you’re sneaking out anywhere but to see your mum or
Jeff.” James grinned.
“I hate to do it.” She gave the bedroom door a long look. “But he doesn’t understand. He

harbors too much misconception and hatred toward him.”
James shook his head. “An
d you trust too easily. Come on.”
He led her into what had been their father’s private library, a room V hadn’t quite
brought himself to use yet, preferring to use the study from his childhood instead. Shed been doing her work in the tearoom, spreading her papers all over the table. The formal rooms and offices offered to her were exactly that. They put her on edge and made it hard to concentrate.
One of the massive bookshelves in the library hid a secret passage. Inside the passage, they pulled on their boots and followed the twisty, dusty path which brought them just outside the palace grounds.
“Where are we going?” James whispered as they avoided the earth court guards that patrolled the surrounding forest.
“Do you really want to know?” Things were different from the last time she snuck out to see the dark king.
James shook his head. “No, I’m not sure I do.”
Noli made her way toward the Thirsty Pooka. “James, what do you want to do?” she asked softly. “We have you helping us, but what do you want?”
He thought for a moment as they crept through the forest. “I like helping you. I’m a younger son, so I figured I’d always help Steven. But I prefer exciting helping to boring helping.”
“Like going into the mortal realm and finding the rest of the pieces?” she pried.
James’ eyes lit up. “Now that sounds fun, especially if I can steal things and use a pistol.” Noli couldn’t help but laugh. Now that was James. Ever since Charlotte died he’d been
so serious. “And if we need someone to investigate, like things we can’t trust to anyone?”
His eyebrow rose and he rubbed his chin. “Hmm...spying. Do I get to go undercover?”
“I don’t know. Ma
ybe, but the pieces are priority. I’ve been going over Quinn’s research.
We may need to enlist Vix’s contacts for help.
“Sure, though I’d rather work with Hittie and Hattie.” James grinned.
“If we can trust them, why not?” She squeezed his arm. “You’re the best, James.” It

wasn’t as if she could go steal them herself. Pity.
They walked awhile longer in silence. James stopped and held out an arm, listening. “Come out, I know you’re following us.” He withdrew his sword.
There was a rustle in the brush and a young woman walked out, hands out
. “Please, I
mean no harm. I’m Aire, one of Her Grace’s Guards.”
Noli studied her for a moment. She didn’t wear a uniform, but she was wearing men’s

clothes, her brown hair nearly as short as Vix’s, a long knife at her waist. Also, her face was familiar, given she the only female guard Noli had.
“Yes, she’s one of my guards,” Noli told James. She frowned at the girl. “But why are you following us?”
“With all due respect, Your Grace, why are you sneaking around so close to dark court territory? It’s not safe,” she replied. “It’s my evening off. I was headed back to the castle and I saw you two in the woods, and given Her Grace isn’t supposed to leave the castle unguarded, I figured I’d follow, just to make sure nothing happened.”
It sounded plausibleand she had a valid point. Noli looked at James.
James shrugged. “Yeah, I remember her. What house are you from again?”
She paled. “I got into the guard the hard way, Prince Séamus.”
“Oh.” He shrugged again. “Good for you.”
Noli had no idea what that meant, though she hoped it meant that she had to work hard to
prove herself. “Fine, you can come, but I’m not babysitting you.”
Aire bowed. “Of course, Your Grace.”
They all walked in silence, Aire slightly behind, as they traveled through several portals
and finally arrived in dark court land.
“Your Grace, do you know where you’re heading?” Aire asked softly.
“Yes. I need to deliver a message.” Noli patted the pocket of her cape.
She put her hood
up to conceal her face.
“I see.” Aire kept her hand on the hilt of her knife but didn’t say anything further. James’ eyebrows rose, but he didn’t speak either.
Finally, the Thirsty Pooka came into view and inwardly she shuddered, remembering
what had happened before. This time Aodhan and his bow weren’t there to save her. “Um...Noli?” James gave her a searching look. “I’m pretty sure we shouldn’t be here.” “It’s business, not trouble.” Noli squared her shoulders. “Not that I plan on being
conspicuous.”
“What if he’s not here?” James’ frowned. “This feels stupid, like we’re
-going-to-get-
killed stupid, not dumb-stupid.” “We’re fine,Noli insisted.
“You should be very cautious,” Aire replied.
Noli huffed. “You should be as well; you don’t see me drawing attention to myself.” Maybe she should have gone alone.
Aire let out a little sigh. “Her Grace has a point, if we look like we’re just out for a drink
we’ll be less likely to be noticed...I hope.”
“True.” James nodded. “I wouldn’t mind seeing what a dark court pub looks like.”
Laugher and music greeted them as they walked in, even though it was quite late. But it
felt relaxed, not wild. Some ogres played darts. Creatures she couldn’t identify were engaged in a game of what might be cards. She wasn’t actually sure what was playing the piano.
Still, her heart thumped. James was right, it was stupid, which was exactly why she hadn’t told anyone what she was doing.
Being friends with the dark court wasn’t treason. She’d checked. Though conspiring against the high queen was.
However, this had nothing to do with the artifact or the queen or the salamanders and everything to do with a small boy who missed his father.
She surveyed the room, looking for Ciarán, but she didn’t see him—or Kevighn, for that matter. However, she did recognize the Deidre, leprechaun bartender, from last time. Keeping up her hood, she wove through the dark pub, not looking to see if James or Aire followed. She didn’t want to risk seeming out of place. While she didn’t expect to be recognized, she didn’t want to leave anything to chance.
Noli took a seat at the quiet end of the bar, near an unused dart board. Hood still up, she watched as the bartender served other customers, chatting with them and filling orders with ease. James took a seat beside her. She didn’t look around to see where Aire was, but she wasn’t going to babysit her.
The bartender came over to them. “Haven’t seen you two before, whatcha having?” “I need to speak to Kyran,” she said softly. “I have a message for him.”
“Oh do you now? La tee dah, aren’t we fancy?”
Deidre guffawed.
“It’s an important message,” James added.
Her belly tightened. What if he wasn’t here? V hadn’t wanted to come here back when Ciarán had Elise because he thought the dark court would kill him on the spot. What if they killed her...and James.
No. Ciarán was far more honorable than V gave him credit for. She was here with good intentions. Shouldn’t a monarch be allowed to visit another? After all, there were no rules saying Queen Tiana couldn’t visit Noli and V whenever she wished, unannounced. Pity.
Deidre put her elbow on the bar and leaned in closer. “Kyran don’t have time for time- wasters.”
Noli prickled at her words. Before she could think things through, she pulled her knife from her boot. The knife flew from her hand, landing in the inner-most circle of the target, not dead center, but close enough. “I’m no time waster.”
“I see.” She nodded and left her place behind the bar, going into the kitchen.
James walked over and took the knife out of the target and brought it back to her. “That wasn’t smart. Good aim, but not smart.”
“True.” She tucked the knife back into her boot. “I’ve been practicing.” Well, practicing knife throwing, not thinking through her actions.
Deidre returned and ignored them. Noli’ stomach bounced with apprehension, but she wasn’t sure she wanted to invoke any ire in the leprechaun. However, Noli wished the bartender would have taken their order so at least she’d have something hold on to.
A few moments later, a fierce looking man, one who looked like the brutes that seemed to accompany the dark king everywhere, strode over to her.
“This way,” he grunted. Noli and James stood. He held out a hand. “Only the girl.” She looked to James. “I’ll be fine.”
After all, she had her sword. Not that there’d been time for her to work with James to
learn to use it better.
Without another word, the unnamed brute went up a staircase, and down a hallway. Taking a deep breath, she tried to push away the dread threatening to tangle around her

limbs, dragging her down, preventing her from carrying out her task. No. She’d deliver Aodhan’s messageand this would prove she had nothing to fear from Ciarán.
“In there.” The man gestured to an open door.
Noli peeked inside and sighed in relief as she caught a familiar figured hunched over a desk.
“I appreciate you showing me here.” She nodded at the brute then slipped into the room. Ciarán wasn’t wearing his hood, and it was difficult not to stare at the scar marring his
olive skin. What a story there must be. Also, why did have no wife or girlfriend? Back when she was subjected to balls and society nitwits she’d heard them titter about how men with scars were more handsome because it meant they were tough and mysterious. Youd think plenty of girls would want to marry a king, even a dark one.
He sat writing at a plain desk, which was laden with books, scrolls, legers and the like as if this were a respectable place of business. The room was simplea few chairs, a bookshelf. There were no trophies of strange beasties, shrunken heads, or anything ominous.
Ciarán put his pen down and his head snapped up. “I could have you killed for crossing into my lands.”
“Why? No, really, I don’t understand.” She didn’t take down her hood, but she met his gaze.
“Are you trying to call my bluff?” His eyebrows rose.
“Yes.”
A smile twitched at his lips. “You’re right. Though not everyone is welcome here, and

generally it’s in poor form to cross into another territory without permission.”
“I apologize, your majesty.” She gave him a small curtsy. “I have a message to deliver.”

Noli pulled out the paper from her pocket and handed it to him. “Aodhan misses you.”
Ciarán opened the note and read it, then put it in a drawer in the desk, face emotionless.
“I haven’t forgotten him.”
“Good, because...” she twisted her hands, “as much as Elise adores having him over, I’
m
not certain it’s safe for him at the palace. I...I saw them playing. They were trying to be discreet, hiding among the roses, in my own private garden—and they don’t know I saw them. But he...” Noli didn’t want to say the words. “I think he takes after both his mother and his uncle.” Quinn,
too, perhaps, not that she knew where his talents had lain.
“I see.” His hands folded on the desk in front of him. “You know who his mother is?”
“He looks like Kevighn. He used to speak of her.” Ah, she should get the children some paints. Perhaps Aodhan was an artist like his mother.
“Aodhan does resemble her,he agreed.
“Except for the hair....” Noli’s voice drifted off. “I don’t know the entire story. But, I knew a man with hair like that once.” She didn’t want to say it out loud. From what she’d learned from Quinn’s journals, Creideamh had been killed—by V’s father’s orders—for being a fire court girl with an earth court gift. Aodhan was supposed to die as well.
But he apparently hadn’t, though none of that was in the journals she’d found.
“Is that why Kevighn hates earth court princes?” Noli still wasn’t sure how Quinn was a prince, since he wasn’t V’s uncle.
“Yes, though it wasn’t Quinn’s fault—or Mathis’ for that matter.” Ciarán stared at her with his odd amber eyes. “You do understand that this information could endanger Aodhan?”
“I wouldn’t hurt Aodhan. I’ll miss him when you bring him home.” She looked up at him. “A boy needs his father. Wait. Mathias ...” That wouldn’t be the same one who had the odd establishment in New York City, would it?
“You’re not here to listen to stories.” His expression remained stern and he didn’t offer her a seat.
“No. All I wanted to do was pass on to you that Aodhan misses you. And...” She took a deep breath. “I was serious that we need to work together.”
“As was I. Give me your hand,” he demanded.
“What?”
This wasnt what she expected.
“Give me your hand.” His was outstretched.
Noli gave him her hand. Both his hands wrapped around it, eyes closing. His expression
grew pensive. Her hand became warm and when she tried to pull it away, he yanked it toward him. The heat lessened and his eyes opened.
“What was that?” She snatched her hand to her and rubbed it.
“It didn’t hurt.” His expression softened....but only slightly. “I don’t want to say you’re unwelcome here. You’ve done nothing to make yourself so. But by the Bright Lady, come in through the kitchen. Luce will get me for you. Also,” Ciarán’s voice went stern. “Double cross me at your own peril. It matters naught to me that you’re a woman, well, a girl really.”
“Why would I do that?” Her nose wrinkled. “I know what needs to be done and I can’t do it alone.”
He nodded, as if she’d said something right. “I don’t think we can either, after all, we lack all the tools.”
“Yes, you do.” But she wasn’t sure if he meant the pieces in her possession, the jewel, Elise, or all of them.
“Be careful. As long as you mean no harm, you’ll be allowed to pass unharmed, but there are others that might not take kindly to you coming here.”
Right. “Elise and Aodhan wish to remain friends.”
“I’m glad.” Ciarán almos
t smiled. “Please, let him know I’ll send for him soon.”
“I will.” She bowed. “I should return now.”
“Yes, you should.”
Noli retuned downstairs, belly still bouncing with nerves, even though it had gone well. James stood. “We should go.”
“Yes, we should.” She gave a long look at the bar. This wouldn’t be the last time she came—and she wasn’t going to sneak in through the kitchen. Unless she had Elise.
They left the tavern and Aire caught up with them as soon as they went outside. “Did you deliver your message?” James asked.
“Yes, I did.” And learned a few things. But one thing that hadn’t gone away was the

feeling that she needed to trust Ciaránand the fate of the Otherworld depended on it. 

And don't forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of signed books by me, Suzanne Lazear, and more! To enter, you need to know that I turned SEVENTEEN the summer after my junior year. Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the orange team and you'll have all the secret code to enter for the grand prize!

CONTINUE THE HUNT

To keep going on your quest for the hunt, you need to check out the next author! Visit Adi Rule's site, HERE!


Thursday, September 25, 2014

A Conversation with Joshua Bellin, Author of SURVIVAL COLONY NINE

Joshua Bellin, author of SURVIVAL COLONY NINE

Hi Josh! I'm so glad you could stop by in the days leading up to your release. So how's the debut whirlwind been? Highlights? Parts that were difficult?

Hi JRo! Thanks for inviting me to chat. The months leading up to my release have been totally crazy: working with my editor and publicist, planning my launch party, responding to interview requests--and all this while trying to live a halfway normal life with my wife and kids. Some of the best moments have been the radio interviews I did and the times I got emails from perfect strangers who'd heard about my book. The only tough part, in all honesty, has been the WAITING. I've known about my pub date for well over a year, and I want it to be here NOW!
Querry Genn is in trouble.

He can’t remember anything before the last six months. And Querry needs to remember. Otherwise he’s dead weight to the other members of Survival Colony 9, one of the groups formed after a brutal war ravaged the earth. And now the Skaldi have come to scavenge what is left of humanity. No one knows what the Skaldi are, or why they’re here, just that they can impersonate humans, taking their form before shedding the corpse like a skin.

Desperate to prove himself after the accident that stole his memory, Querry is both protected and tormented by the colony’s authoritarian commander, his father. The only person he can talk to is the beautiful Korah, but even with her, he can’t shake the feeling that something is desperately wrong. And that his missing memories are at the very center of it.


Yep, totally know that feeling. So, SURVIVAL COLONY NINE, is a science-fiction story set on earth some time after our current now. The world is dry and dusty and inhabited with these freaky, scary creatures called the Skaldi. What was your inspiration for them? And do you consider them to be the true antagonists of your story?


Great question! The Skaldi came to me in a flash of inspiration very early in the development of the story. I'd jotted down my main character's name, the setting, and a couple plot points, and then I wrote down the word "Skaldi" and knew I had my story's monsters. I didn't know yet what they were or what they could do, but the word--sort of like "scald," sort of like "skull"--just struck me as very otherworldly and menacing. As they developed, they became these terrifying body-snatchers (and I made them more terrifying with each revision, my agent and editor urging me along!). They're definitely what everyone in the story is most overtly afraid of, but as my protagonist learns, there are other threats to his colony--threats originating from inside--that may be just as monstrous.

That was one of the things I liked most about your book, is that it was not only a speculative fiction novel, but also a somewhat classic coming of age and finding self novel. Was this your intention or did this facet of the story grow as your novel did?

I'm glad you picked up on that, because it was definitely my intention from the start to have that dual focus: the epic story of humanity's struggle against the Skaldi, and the small-scale story of one teenage boy's growth toward manhood. My thinking was that even in the most terrible of circumstances, young people continue to live out the dramas of finding themselves, coming into conflict with the older generation, and so on. For example, in Anne Frank's diary, even against the context of the Holocaust, there's the story of Anne discovering who she is, fighting with her parents, and having her first crush. This isn't always the case: for instance, in Uzodinma Iweala's BEASTS OF NO NATION, a fictionalized account of orphan soldiers in Africa, the circumstances are so horrific they absolutely deny young people normal developmental milestones. But I wanted to write a book where coming of age was still possible despite--or because of--the severe challenges the post-apocalyptic world presents.

I haven't read BEASTS OF NO NATION. It sounds like one of those difficult reads that really makes an impact. So let's speak of environment. Your setting for SURVIVAL COLONY NINE is stark. What challenges did such a limited landscape provide as you were writing?

I was faced with two challenges: one, to make the desert interesting, and two, to give my narrator and the other characters a vocabulary appropriate to their experience. In the first case, there are only so many times you can describe sand and dirt and bare rock, so I tried to enliven the desert with other physical features: a nearby river, the occasional tree or valley, remnants from the built environment of the past, such as an abandoned compound, a destroyed road, a fractured pipeline. In the second case, I was limited in what characters could think or say, because so much of the old world was swept away so quickly they don't remember it. So no one would be likely to say that something is "as big as a horse" or "as tall as a skyscraper," because no one's ever seen those things, not even in photographs. The result is that my characters tend to talk and think in terms of their surroundings: the environment shapes not only what they can do but what they can imagine.

Fascinating. Yes, their world views would be very different than ours. 
So if there is one thing you want your readers to take away from Survival Colony Nine, what would it be? (or two or three :))


I'll go for three. First, I hope readers identify with my narrator's struggle to recover his past and discover his identity. Second, I hope they get drawn into my portrait of a world ravaged by war and climate change. And third, I hope they find the Skaldi as terrifying as I tried to make them.

And, okay, I'll add one more: I hope readers like SURVIVAL COLONY 9 enough that they'll ask for more!


Ah yes, there is a sequel? Title?

Well, I've written a sequel, titled SCAVENGER OF SOULS. But as I tell everyone, it doesn't have a publication date yet. I guess that'll depend a lot on how SURVIVAL COLONY 9 is received.

I will say this, though: it's a really cool sequel. It shows more of the world than is seen in SC9, has a bigger cast of characters, higher stakes, more monsters, and even more action than its predecessor (if that's possible). So here's hoping.


And final three questions! What's been playing on repeat lately? Best drink ever? and Next 3 books on your TBR pile?

Playing on repeat: that OneRepublic song I can never remember the title to. Best drink: something I invented called an Allegretto Gold. Books on TBR pile: SILVERN by Christina Farley, SALT & STORM by Kendall Kulper, and SWEET UNREST by Lisa Maxwell.

Thanks for having me, JRo! It's been fun!

Thanks so much for stopping by Josh and congratulations on SURVIVAL COLONY NINE, it's a brilliant debut!



Monday, September 15, 2014

Read Aloud Challenge

My "friend" (can I call her that after this?), Kelsey Macke, author of Damsel Distressed, challenged me on YouTube to do a read aloud challenge from my book.

I figured it'd be good practice. So hear I am, in all my Sunday slouching glory, reading from NO PLACE TO FALL. Enjoy!