Are you here for the Young Adult Scavenger Hunt? If so, welcome!
This tri-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 receive one signed book from each author on the hunt in my team! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online until noon PST on Sunday, April 5th!
You can also go to the YA Scavenger Hunt homepage to find out all about the hunt. There are EIGHT contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all. I am a part of the ORANGE TEAM -- but there are also gold, blue, green, red, teal, purple and pink teams -- and if you do the those hunts, as well, you'll have a chance to win eight total different sets of signed books!
About Your Host
(If you're a regular Surrender, Dorothy reader, the YASH takes place from April 2-5, and then posting will go back to normal.)
My name is Rita Arens, and I'm the author of the contemporary young adult novel THE OBVIOUS GAME. Here's some more information about my book:
“Everyone trusted me back then. Good old, dependable Diana. Which is why most people didn’t notice at first.”
"Your shirt is yellow."
"Your eyes are blue."
"You have to stop running away from your problems."
"You're too skinny."
Fifteen-year-old Diana Keller accidentally begins teaching The Obvious Game to new kid Jesse on his sixteenth birthday. As she buries her shock about her mother's fresh cancer diagnosis in cookbooks, peach schnapps and Buns of Steel workouts, Diana both seduces athlete Jesse and shoves him away under the guise of her carefully constructed sentences. As their relationship deepens, Diana avoids Jesse's past with her own secrets -- which she'll protect at any cost. Will Diana and Jesse's love survive his wrestling obsession and the Keller family's chaos, or will all their important details stay buried beneath a game?
I wrote THE OBVIOUS GAME from 2009-2012, and it was published by InkSpell Publishing in February 2013. This is my first young adult novel and my fourth time participating in this scavenger hunt. Some people say there are books you want to write and books you have to write -- I wrote the "have to write" book first, and that is THE OBVIOUS GAME. It's a little heavy, but so is high school.
I thought for a while about what kind of bonus material I should provide for THE OBVIOUS GAME. I already did a playlist based on the chapter titles (it's under Young Adult in the navigation above). That was to crack myself up -- all the chapter titles are album titles from the eighties/nineties (the novel is set in 1990). I picked a song from each corresponding album to be that chapter's representative on the playlist. I'm fairly sure I'm the only one who got geeked out on that, but there you go. I thought about writing more about my main character's early relationship with her boyfriend, Jesse. I thought about doing more about Diana and her first friend, Amanda. Two hunts ago, I decided to write a companion scene from the point of view from Diana's mother, because Diana's changing relationship with her mom was a pretty important part of the story. If you're interested in seeing that (it's no longer available online), email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. In the next hunt, I included a deleted scene when Pa comes upon a dead man while driving home from work. I took it out because it wasn't working with the rest of the story, even though I liked it (KILL YOUR DARLINGS). In the last hunt, I included an early scene from my young adult novel-in-progress, THE BIRTHRIGHT OF PARKER CLEAVES. This time, I'm including another scene from PARKER CLEAVES that reveals Meg's fascination with Parker's entire family.
My exclusive bonus content scene is only available until noon on Sunday, and it's on the website of my YASH host, Paula Stokes.
Follow me on Pinterest to watch my stories grow. I'll also be starting a newsletter soon with pins, stumbles and other bits of beauty and humor I see on my daily travels around the Internet. Please email me at email@example.com with SUBSCRIBE as the subject line if you'd like to be subscribed.
And, just because I like you, here's an additional giveaway just for the hunters who stopped here!
DETAILS OF THE SCAVENGER HUNT
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. Hint: the secret number is highlighted in ORANGE.
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.
Now that all the technical stuff is out of the way, I'll introduce the author I am hosting on this hunt.
I am super excited to be hosting ... Rachel Tafoya, the author of THE NIGHT HOUSE (Month9Books, 2014).
Rachel Tafoya attended the Experimental Writing for Teens class and Novels for Young Writers program, both run by New York Times-bestselling author, Jonathan Maberry. She has since taken over the Experimental Writing Class for Jonathan and teaches it herself. Her first book is THE NIGHT HOUSE. She is the daughter of crime author Dennis Tafoya. She lives in Pennsylvania.
the magic number is 11
More about THE NIGHT HOUSE ...
Bianca St. Germain works at a Night House, a place where vampires like the aristocratic Jeremiah Archer pay to feed on humans, and she doesn’t much care what others think of her. The money is good, and at least there, she’s safe. Bianca also doesn’t care that the Night House is killing her. All she cares about is nauth, the highly addictive poison in vampire bites that brings a euphoria like no drug ever could. But when Bianca meets James, a reclusive empath who feels everything she does, for the first time, she considers a life outside of the Night House and a someone worth living for.
And now, without further ado, here is Rachel's exclusive content!
This is a scene I wrote as an alternate beginning to the story. If you've read Night House, than it's just a tiny extra glimpse into the lives of the Fields and how James has come to know them. I wrote Night House when I was in high school, as my independent study, and this was a scene my English teacher advised me to write, so I could get to know the family better, so it was written a pretty long time ago! Don't worry if you've never read Night House, because it's supposed to be the first chapter anyway. Enjoy!
Comfort is an odd emotion. It feels like you’re hugging a heating blanket to your stomach without using any force. I mean, that is the whole point of comfort. It’s effortless.
Right now my family is comfortable. I can feel their comfort weaving through the whole house, like the threads of a blanket. This is the best time for me, right before dinner. Everyone is settled in their places and they stopped thinking about all the unimportant stuff. They're focused, yet completely relaxed. Their comfort soothes me. So I close my eyes to the underside of my top bunk and take a deep breath.
The sharp smell of barbeque pervades my senses through the vent under my bed. It forces my eyes open as my stomach groans its protest. It’s been months since I had meat. My family is vegan, but I never officially made the switch. Though it’s hard not to when they all give me puppy dog eyes when I eat meat in front of them.
I blindly reach my hand out and feel for the IPod speakers next to my bed. Dan Boeckner’s voice dies down to a whisper and I listen to the sounds of home. Ally is exploring her bass, taking her cues from people like Les Claypool. I appreciate the man, but could never get into the music myself. My father is making food out of wheat grass and good faith, taking vegan to a whole new level. When they tell me the names of some of the foods involved, I block their voices. If it’s not fresh fruit, I don’t want to know.
I jump at the sound of pounding on my wall, followed by a spark of excitement that jolts my nerves. It comes from Ally’s room. I turn off the music and wait for her to call me.
“BROTHER!” She gives a muffled shout.
I sit upright, as if that will clear her voice up.
My toes sink into the carpet as I stand up and slink over to my door. She waits for me, hanging out of her room.
“Check this out.” Her eyebrows go up and down and she feels out some tabs on her acoustic bass.
I can’t help but smirk. “Smooth Criminal? You’ve got nothing better to do with your time?"
Her face is stuck in this cartoonish grin with her mouth open and her eyes wide and now she’s bobbing her head to the side.
“You know you like it,” she says. “Don’t make me sing.”
“Oh god. Please, I’ve already taken as much as I can handle.”
She gives me her normal grin, eyes crinkled and cheeks dimpled. “You’re so sweet.”
“What can I say? Michael Jackson brings out the worst in me.”
She sticks her tongue out and returns her bass to her room, coming out to join me in the hall. We descend the stairs into the main room.
“Excited for dinner?” she asks.
“By dinner you mean the seeds that dad collected from following a rainbow and somehow whipped into something that resembles meat?”
“It’s called soy, freak.”
She snorts. “You make fun, but you like it.”
The soles of Ally’s boots click as the carpet changes to hardwood on the ground floor.
My bare feet thump into it. To the left I hear Alanis Morissette’s “Ironic” flowing out of my mother’s painting room.
“Do not disturb,” Ally quips with a smirk.
I smile, but she’s completely right. It is an unspoken rule in the house. When Alanis comes on, my mother is in the zone and you must enter at your own risk. You are liable to have your head bitten off for disturbing her creative aura. Or possibly just have paint dumped over you. My mother is an interesting woman. It’s always been her dream to be an artist living off her own work. So when we moved to Philly in order for her to realize that dream, she sort of morphed into this hermit like creature. She sometimes locks herself in her painting room for hours to “feel out the canvas”. We don’t question her ways. She makes money after all. And she’s happy. I’ve felt it.
Ally and I enter the kitchen instead. My father is much calmer. He’s also an artist, a photographer, but he doesn’t take his work as seriously, even though I think he’s really great at it. He likes to cook and spend time with us. He’s big into family. But not in the usual, let’s go out and play group sports every Sunday, kind of way. More like, let’s take a completely spontaneous five hour drive to this weird park I found and have the kids dress up as clowns while I photograph you all. I think those family outings are more memorable.
“What’s cookin’ padre?” Ally asks and seats herself on a stool. The moveable island in front of her slides forward a few inches.
He flips something that looks suspiciously like chicken, but I know better. “Little of this, little of that,” he answers and throws her a devious smile. My father is at least six five (I’ve never measured him myself) and thin as a pole. He’s basically a stick figure. “What have you been doing Jam?”
I shrug, ignoring the juvenile nickname. “I was breathing for a while. Then I started thinking. The usual.”
I can’t see his face, but I know he’s smiling. “So, exciting stuff.”
“I think living is very exciting,” I say.
He nods. “Usually.”
“You’ve had your nose in another book,” Ally accuses.
“I apologize. I know it’s a bad habit, but something about ink shapes on paper just really intrigues me. You know they actually spell out words and sentences and sometimes they even tell a story.”
“It’s not a bad thing,” she pouts. “I’m just saying. You know how you get. You start a new book and then we never see you.”
My lips thin and I glare at her behind my father’s back. She knows exactly why I do this.
I’ve explained it to her on several occasions. But still, she refuses to let me be. She gives me an innocent smile, but I can feel the slight frustration lurking behind her eyes. I can’t explain it now.
“Night by Ellie Wiesel,” I confess.
“Shit, could you get any more depressing?” Ally absently eats a carrot off the salad bowl in front of her.
I want to shake her. Ally knows more about me than anyone else, but it’s like she’s put up this filter so that even though she hears what I say, she refuses to understand. She can’t accept how liberating it is for me to read about pain that I can’t feel. I have to trust the author. It’s the only time I truly feel connected to another person without feeling everything they do. Sometimes I think Ally doesn’t actually believe that I feel everyone’s emotions, that she’s just going along with me to be nice.
“How is everyone?”
Ally screams at the sound of my mother’s low voice. Mom has a habit of sneaking up on us. She simply appears and says something. It usually scares Ally. I can feel her coming though.
“Jesus, mother, I’m fine,” Ally breaths.
Mom rubs her shoulder. “I didn’t mean to scare you, love.”
She leans her chin on Ally’s head and for a moment I can’t tell them apart. They are both thin with long faces and curly dark hair wore in pretty much the exact same way. But my mother’s face is spattered with paint and Ally’s is dotted with acne and now they’re twenty years apart again.
“Take a picture,” Ally says to me.
I laugh quietly and look to my dad. I look most similar to him, but it’s still obvious that I was adopted. Anyhow, we still fit together. And I know they love me like I’m their own son. I’ve felt it many times. One of the few joys of being what I am. I know that when my parents say they love me, they’re telling the truth.
Unfortunately for me, the joys are outnumbered by the flaws.
WHERE TO GO NEXT
The next stop on the scavenger hunt will be April Genevieve Tucholke's site. Good luck and GO SEE APRIL.
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