Welcome to the Spring 2016 YA Scavenger Hunt!
Begins at Midnight, Pacific time, March 29, 2016
Ends at Noon, Pacific time, April 3, 2016
I’m Nina Berry, your host for this leg of your hunt. I work by day in television and write by night from my secret lair in Los Angeles, surrounded by cats (well, two of them). I write stories about underdogs, and I love animals, Ancient Egypt, and bodysurfing. I tend to wander, in body and in mind.
You are currently hunting on:
Looking for exclusive bonus content and the secret number that will allow you to possibly win a serious LOAD of books plus a separate special giveaway from me?
What is the 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 receive one 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 for 72 hours!
Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page 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 PURPLE TEAM–but there is also a red team, an orange team, a gold team, a green team, a teal team, a blue team, and a pink team for a chance to win a whole different set of books!
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 3, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.
Now, onward to the exclusive content, and the author I’m hosting….
Joshua McCune was born on a navy base in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He grew up in London and Washington, D.C., went to college in Texas, and got married in New Zealand. He worked as a telemarketer, an SAT instructor, and a robotics engineer before becoming an author. He currently lives in San Antonio, Texas, writing stories of people and places just beyond the reach of planes, trains, and automobiles (but not dragons).
(Nina stepping in here to let you know that., contrary to prevailing rumor, Joshua does not have 7 toes on each foot. Ok, just had to let you know that. For no apparent reason.)
Joshua’s latest book is this awesome adventure:
The second book of the TALKER 25 dragon trilogy:
Finally free after spending three months locked in a secret government facility where she was forced to torture and assassinate dragons for the popular television series Kissing Dragons, all Melissa Callahan wants is a quiet recovery. Hiding in an Alaskan cave with fellow escapee Allie (known as Talker 21) and a silver dragon named Baby, Melissa does her best to stay out of the dragon politics. However, when a group of bloodthirsty insurgents called the Diocletians comes looking for them, Melissa must put everything on the line to protect those she loves.
Top Secret Bonus Material Ahead!
I’ll hand the page over to Joshua to tell you about it.
**** SPOILER ALERT ****
This is one of my favorite scenes in T25: IM. Melissa has infiltrated the ruthless dragon-riding insurgency group known as the Diocletians in hopes of rescuing her friend and fellow telepath, Allie (Talker 21, from book 1). She and a group of Diocletians are sent on a propaganda mission to film assassinations and terrorist acts to incite fear in the general public. This was the original final scene in the propaganda mission. I ended up cutting it because the book was running long and the purpose of this scene had already been achieved in previous scenes.
**** BEGIN DELETED SCENE ****
A day later we’re in middle-of-nowhere, West Virginia. A place called Stonewall Jackson Lake. A crisp breeze blows through the trees. Leaves rustle, crickets chirp, birds wake. Night fades into dawn.
I chamber a bullet in my rifle as James tells me how to adjust for the wind. He lies beside me on a wooded embankment that shelters us from view but gives us a clear shot of the lake.
“He’s coming,” Evelyn says through the CENSIR. She and Grizzly B are out in the woods somewhere with their own rifles. Backup in case we miss.
The dull thrum of a motorboat reaches my ears. Sweat slickens my palms. My breathing sharpens.
“You look terrified,” Joto snaps from where he’s videoing our assassination.
“You need to calm down,” T-Clef says from the opposite side. She glances at me, even though she’s supposed to keep her vid-lens focused on the lake. “You okay, Missy C?”
James looks at me. Makeup hides the bruises, but it cannot hide the darkness. The rays of morning light that fall across his face somehow magnify the underlying fury. “Remember what he’s done. Remember what he did to Cartha.”
Old Man Blue. I’ve been thinking about her since I woke this morning. Thinking about how I was forced to execute her for the cameras.
And when I couldn’t kill her, the last person I expected to help me stepped up and did it for me. It was the smallest thing, probably didn’t mean anything to him, but he was one of the few people who actually treated me like I was something other than a puppet to be manipulated and controlled.
Then he’s there in front of me, magnified through my scope. Evelyn says something in my head that I don’t hear. My heartbeat quickens as I track him. He looks exactly the same, and I wish he didn’t.
He stops in the middle of the lake, starts baiting his line. He fished in a lot of the Kissing Dragons episodes, but I always figured that was just green-screen make-believe bullshit to make the fab four seem normal. Why does he have to look so normal –
James nudges me. “I got Frank. You better take the kid, okay?”
Kid? I pull back from the scope. The boat’s no larger than my hand at this distance, Frank a thick finger on one side. A thumb sticks out from the other. I look into my scope, swing my rifle a hair to the right.
The boy’s ten, maybe eleven. A younger version of his father.
“He has a kid,” I mutter.
“Imagine that,” Joto says, sarcastic.
“He’s not part of the plan.” He wasn’t supposed to be here. Oren told us Frank always went on these fishing trips alone. It’s why we targeted him. “I’m not shooting a kid.”
Joto spits. “A scalechaser in the making. They didn’t give a flying flip when they killed all the dragon children.”
“You’d be doing him a favor,” James says, more to himself than me, more sad than angry.
I shake my head. “I’ll take Frank.”
“You’re too jittery for that,” James says. He lowers his voice to a whisper. “You won’t even hit him. Just make it look good for the cameras and we can go.”
Go? Just go. Like this is an onerous errand to be suffered through then forgotten.
“You guys got your marks?” Evelyn asks.
Marks. Plural. When I miss, they’ll shoot the boy.
I can try to intervene – probably fail – and give up any chance of rescuing Allie, or I can add another black mark to my soul, more dead faces to my nightmares, and hope there is a piece of salvation at the end of this seemingly endless tunnel.
Two choices. Always the same two choices. And I am paralyzed.
“You guys ready?” Evelyn says, annoyed.
“Radio on. We’re waiting for the wind to settle a bit. We’ll let you know. Radio off,” James says. He’s looking at me. How long’s he been looking at me? He sets down his rifle, places his hand on the barrel of mine, pushes it to the ground. “You’ve got to let go.”
I’ve got a death grip on the gun, but a moment later, I realize that’s not what he means.
“We don’t have time for this romantic bullshit,” Joto says.
“Shut up, Joto,” T-Clef says.
“I can’t,” I say. “I can’t let go.”
“We should open up her link with Praxus,” Joto says. “Oh, wait, that’s right, she fucked that up, too.”
“Shut up, Joto,” T-Clef says.
“Think about Baby,” James says softly. He waves an arm toward the boat. “They would kill her in a heartbeat.”
They tried. Tried to kill all the children. But Cartha and the other Blues sacrificed themselves to prevent that. Thousands dead and Baby’s all that’s left. Was she worth it? Is any of this worth it? What’s one more dead kid on the list?
Fuck it. I lift my rifle, take aim, put my finger to the trigger.
“Wait!” Joto says as James scrambles into position. “Radio on. We’re about to –”
I fire. The bullet whistles through the morning calm and smashes into the side of the boat.
“Get down, Henry!” Frank shouts. The boy’s frozen. Frank throws himself at him, but the boat’s rocking too much and he loses his footing before he gets there. He regains his balance –
A gunshot from my left catches him in the shoulder. He spins a quarter turn, wobbles, lurches sideways for his son. A second shot from the right hits him square in the chest. He topples backward, hands reaching out. He disappears behind the hull.
The boy stands up. One hand on the gunwale, he edges his way toward the spot where his father fell. Through my scope, I can see his face. His mouth is slack, his eyes don’t blink.
“Who wants it?” Evelyn says.
“Radio on. All mine,” James says and fires. I swallow a scream. The bullet slashes the boys upper arm, a glancing blow, but it breaks him from his trance. Two more shots echo from the treeline, but he’s already ducked out of sight.
“Dammit,” Evelyn says. “Get your gear and let’s go.”
“Wait. We can blow that shit up with our railshots,” Joto says. “An epic conclusion scene.”
“Go for it,” Evelyn says. She’s walking by the sound of it. I hear twigs snapping, the crunch of leaves. “Hurry it up, though. We got police chatter already.”
“Fish in a barrel.” He draws his railshot.
I reach for my own, but James intercepts me.
He scrambles to his feet. “You’ll give our location away. We should bail.”
“It’s a quick hit,” Joto says.
T-Clef steps in front of him. “Jesus, Joto, he’s just a kid.”
His gaze tightens. “So were we. Move out of my way, Tonya. You’re wasting time.”
“You do this, we’re through. For real this time.”
He curses, then holsters his railshot. “We’ll be back for you, you lucky bastard!” He stalks away. T-Clef chases after him. My heartbeat calms.
“You coming?” James asks.
“In a second.” I look back through my scope.
“I think he’s gonna stay down,” James says, pulling the rifle from my grip. I don’t resist. He helps me to my feet, looking at me the entire time. The anger’s gone from his eyes. “Your marksmanship is about as good as your ability to follow orders.” He snorts. “That was a horrible shot.”
I nod. “So was yours.”
He shrugs. “Damn wind.”
Nina here. Dang! Can’t wait to read the stuff that didn’t get cut!
And don’t forget to enter the contest to win books by Joshua, me, and others on Team Purple.
Look at all these delicious books!
Thank you so much for visiting my website! While you’re here don’t forget to enter the rafflecopter bonus contest I am running exclusively during the YA Scavenger Hunt.
To enter my personal giveaway, see the widget below. Five people will win both a hardback of The Notorious Pagan Jones + and an advance reader copy (ARC) of City of Spies! Five other people will win my entire Otherkin trilogy. That’s all three books (Otherkin, Othermoon, Othersphere). All ten winners will get their books personally signed to them, or to anyone they want, plus bookmarks and Pagan Jones swag.
Note: my contest runs midnight March 29 through midnight, April 5. So it runs a little longer than the YA Scavenger Hunt, which ends Noon, Pacific time, on April 3, 2016. But enough of me babbling – go, enter! (And, P.S., if you comment, it’ll ask for your email. That’s just to make sure you’re not a spammer. I will never use your email for any other purpose or give it out to anyone.)
Ready to move on to the next link in the hunt? Then head on over to visit author Beck Nicholas’s page.