Thursday, October 1, 2015

Fall 2015 YASH

Great books are in the hunt this time around, I can feel it! With so many authors and so many new books, who wouldn't be excited? I know of at least 23 I already want to read. But, first things first, let me explain what the hunt is. In the lovely Mrs. Houck's words:

"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 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 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 PINK TEAM--but there is also a blue team, a gold team, a green team, an orange team, a red team, a teal team, and a purple 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.


Directions: Below, you'll notice that I've listed my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the pink 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 October 4, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered."


GILLIAN BRONTE ADAMS is a sword-wielding, horse-riding, coffee-loving speculative fiction author from the great state of Texas. During the day, she manages the equestrian program at a youth camp. But at night, she kicks off her boots and spurs, pulls out her trusty laptop, and transforms into a novelist. She is the author of Orphan’s Song, book one of the Songkeeper Chronicles, and Out of Darkness Rising.
You can find more information on Gillian and her books here:
~ Buy her book


Who Will Keep the Song Alive?

Every generation has a Songkeeper – one chosen to keep the memory of the Song alive. And in every generation, there are those who seek to destroy the chosen one. When Birdie's song draws the attention of a dangerous Khelari soldier, she is kidnapped and thrust into a world of ancient secrets and betrayals. Rescued by her old friend, traveling peddler Amos McElhenny, Birdie flees the clutches of her enemies in pursuit of the truth behind the Song’s power.

Ky is a street–wise thief and a member of the Underground—a group of orphans banded together to survive . . . and to fight the Khelari. Haunted by a tragic raid, Ky joins Birdie and Amos in hopes of a new life beyond the reach of the soldiers. But the enemy is closing in, and when Amos’ shadowed past threatens to undo them all, Birdie is forced to face the destiny that awaits her as the Songkeeper of Leira. Book one of the Songkeeper Chronicles.


Gillian has provided us with a behind-the-scenes with Amos McElhenny. *swoon* If you've read her book, she offers tips.
Folks who have read my novel Orphan’s Song tend to settle on Amos McElhenny as their favorite character. He is a travelling peddler, formerly from the Westmark, a boggy moorland on the coast of Leira, so he has a bit of a salty tongue, if you catch my drift. He can be a bit brusque, and he’s not the man to back down from a fight, but when it comes down to it, there’s little he cares for more than seeing that his wee lass, Birdie, is kept safe … and how can you find fault with that?
     As part of a joke in a recent blog post—a joke, mind you—I made a comment about how Amos might meet his doom in the course of a story, and the response quite literally blew me out of the water! Quite honestly, I feared for my life.
     Because Amos is also one of my favorites, I couldn’t resist the change to give you all a bit of an insider’s look into his character. You see, Amos has a bit of a penchant for inventing curious insults and phrases. Some are taken from the seafaring culture that he grew up in, but even those Amos generally manages to tweak just enough to make them wholly his own. So ladies and gents, you are about to get a crash course in How to Talk Like Amos McElhenny!

This is a word that any aspiring young Amos McElhenny imitator must learn to master, as it is one of his favorites. By definition, boggswoggle is something that exists only in the realm of the fantastic, i.e. something so impossible that it could not, by any stretch of the ordinary imagination, be assumed to be true. Or it is something that is deceptive. A mirage. False.
     In this context, it is often used by the Waveryders of the Westmark to describe the hazy shapes seen rising from the water during the late watches of the night. In fact, popular stories place the origin of this expression in sailors’ superstitions about the mysterious boggles and boogies that haunt the open waves.
      Example: “Of course not,” he blustered, but she saw the truth in his downcast eyes. “It’s sheer boggswoggle. Foolish twiddle twaddle and drivelin’ poppycock. Ye’re imagining things.”

Bloodwuthering blodknockers:

Generally assumed to be an expression of extreme dismay or disgust. Blodknockers are a form of enormous leech that infest the marshy grasses surrounding the bogs of the Westmark. When full grown, blodknockers are the length of an index finger and have a pale, grubby white appearance. Blodknockers differ from ordinary leeches in that blodknocker venom contains a powerful sedative, and although the bite of one blodknocker will rarely bring down a man, a dog or smaller animal may well succumb to it.
     Blodknockers, however, are rarely solitary creatures. Many an unwary traveler has stumbled into a nest and later been found drained of blood. Needless to say, those of the Westmark regard blodknockers as the worst type of pest and frequently burn the edges of the bogs known to be infested.
     The origin of the phrase bloodwuthering blodknockers is commonly attributed to Amos McElhenny after the loss of a pack beast to a blodknocker nest.
     Example: He swept his cap from his head, bowed to the tavern and its inmates, and stalked out into the night, thoroughly disgusted with himself and the whole evening. “Bloodwuthering blodknockers!”


Common Waveryder name for peat that has been dredged from the bogs and dried for fuel. When burned, it gives off a distinct aroma that permeates any food or drink cooked or warmed over the fire. Generally associated with warmth and home and comfort, though one could also associate it with ash and mud and decay. Scholars debate whether Amos’s use of the phrase in reference to his donkey Balaam was intended as an insult or a term of endearment, but that is another discussion for another day.
     Example: He kicked at Balaam with his free foot. “C’mon! Get up, ye earth-shatterin’ lump of charbottle.”


Another Amos McElhenny favorite, bilgewater is generally an expression of frustration. For those with any seafaring knowledge, little explanation is needed to understand the origin of this phrase. The water that fills the bilges of a Waveryder ship is generally the foulest and dankest water imaginable. Those unlucky sailors who happen to land “bilge” duty can expect miserable, wet, back-breaking and often futile seeming hours at the buckets or pump for the duration of their watch.
     Example: He looked up into the incredulous glares of tavern-goers gathered in a semicircle around his table. Bilgewater! That didn’t look good.

Congratulations, my friends! Once you master these four expressions, you will be well on your way to being able to talk like the self-proclaimed master of insult, Amos McElhenny. You may not, however, be well on your way to winning friends and influencing people. The cost of being a rough but loveable character, eh?
*Note: All examples taken from Orphan’s Song, book one of the Songkeeper Chronicles.

And don't forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of signed books by me, Gillian Bronte Adams, and more! Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the pink 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, Kate Karyus Quinn!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Second Chapter of FORMAL SECRETS

So, I promised all my lovely followers after every 100, I would post one chapter of my WIP, Formal Secrets (fka The Magpie's Daughter). I am so excited to share this entire story with you all, and it's nearly complete, but for now, feel free to read the first two chapters! (Again, this is unedited, raw material. If there are issues, feel free to inform me. I also appreciate feedback.)

Haven't read the first chapter? Read it HERE

Chapter Two

"Initially, it started twenty years ago as a bitter argument between rulers," Mathilda started, her voice making the story ominous. "The messenger came first, traveling back and forth two or three times a day.  One day, after a few months, he came with a five guard escort. Some threats had been exchanged and the Garbonian leader, Malaki Fitzger, thought it best he was protected.
"But your father, Richard, believed killing the messenger sent its own message. So he waited until the messenger came alone, nearly a year later. The soldiers came then." She choked on her next words. “That's when Raelyn got attacked. We fought off those guards easily enough, though it was too late for my Rae. There were only twenty-five. All was calm then, the calm before the storm. A month later, the army surged the city.
"Your mother, Elizabeth, had been speaking with me for a few months. You had had infections repeatedly and she asked me for ailments, which I offered. I was surprised when she came to me that day, your brother in tow. I don't know—"
"Wait," Emmalyn interrupted. "My brother?"
"Charles, yes. As I was saying: I don't know why I accepted to care for you. Your father was the reason my daughter was dead, after all. I guess I thought it was a second chance at being a mother, which, in a way, it was. In other ways, it was torture. Little things you did would remind me of Raelyn." She smiled now. "Your spirits are so alike it scared me. It still does."
The room was silent aside from the crackling fire. Then, "Where is my family now?" Emmalyn asked quietly.
Mathilda shook her head. "I do not know. But knowing your mother's nature, I assume they went east."
"It's the way most people went. Garbonia is to the west so it's most fitting. Elizabeth wouldn't travel into colder climate with a young child. I know because you're the reason I went south."
Emmalyn's head swam from all the new information. She had a family—a father, a mother, and a brother. All this time, she had thought Mathilda was her mother, never knowing her father, which explained why she was an only child. The news was like a blow to the gut and she found herself gasping for breath. "Why...?"
"Why didn't I tell you sooner?" Mathilda finished for her. "Because I told Elizabeth you couldn't know for your own safety, but I believed my own lie. You're old enough now, you have the right to know, and there's been no threats since the day Garbonia invaded."
A feeling she couldn't describe slammed into her and Emmalyn knew what she had to do. "I need to find them. My family." The word was foreign to her but it sounded right. She had a brother. A sibling. She wondered if they looked alike, if people would know they were related, like Ceylon and Madeliene.
Mathilda fingered the book she had set down. "I knew you would say that. I've been dreaming you'd leave for a while now, dreams of being alone. I hoped it would be on happier terms."
Emmalyn remained silent, unsure what to say. She felt deep in her gut she needed to find her family, and Mathilda had been training her on survival skills since before she could walk, but she hated seeing her mother sad. No, she thought. Not my mother. Just the woman who raised me as her own for my mother.
After an extended moment of silence, she stood and rubbed her sweaty palms on her skirt. "I should go pack a bag if I wish to travel at dawn."
Mathilda was shocked. "So soon? Why not stay a week to finish your training. I will teach you other things, like evasion."
"I know how to fight," she insisted.
"What if there are too many of them?"
"I will run."
"They're faster than you."
The woman scowled at her elder. "Then I will die."
"You will evade," Mathilda corrected smugly.
Emmalyn crossed her arms. "You're just trying to keep me here longer so I might forget."
"I promise you, you will not. I am insuring your safety by finishing your education. You can strike, block, shoot, and run, but sometimes all of it isn't enough. Evasion could be the difference between life and death."
She thought a while. "Very well. I will stay a week. It will allow me to gather extra provisions I may need as well."
Mathilda smiled at her even though she wasn't sure a week would be enough. She hoped it would.

Emmalyn awoke in her bed a week later. Her packed bag lay against the wall, her traveling clothes folded on the chair next to it. Nervousness flooded through her, the excitement getting muted. A week ago she had been beyond ready to see faces that resembled hers. While growing up, she had remarked to her mother how they didn't look alike, and her response had always been, "That is because you take after your father."
Now, her curiosity spiked more than ever. She was going to meet him to see for herself. She wondered if she looked equally like both of her parents. She could only imagine what her brother looked like. Only one thought was powerful enough to keep her tucked in her bed: What if they don't recognize me?
Mathilda, too, lay in her bed, loneliness already setting in. She hadn't slept at all that night, her uneasy thoughts having kept her awake. A traveling child is better than a deceased child, she kept repeating.
But if she died, you'd never know, the voice in her head argued, not for the first time.
Dawn broke through the covered window when she heard Emmalyn rouse from her bed. She continued to lay there and listen to her daughter shuffle around. Emmalyn was nearly done making breakfast by the time Mathilda padded into the tiny room. Her brown curls bounced against her back as she glided around, picking things up and putting them away. Watching her made Mathilda's heart ache and she recalled a memory of Raelyn smiling as she served morning tea.
The young woman gasped, nearly dropping the plate in her hands. "Mother! Why must you always be so silent?"
Mathilda's smile was sad. "On the contrary, I was quite loud. You were so engrossed you took no notice."
She set the plate down. "Still, it was enough to make my heart pause its beating for a short while."
The bag by the door slumped over, making both women look over. Some of the contents spilled out and Emmalyn rushed to secure them again.
"So you're all set then," Mathilda stated. The ache deepened in her heart and her eyes began to sting but she refused to cry. "When do you expect to be leaving?"
"Just as soon as I finish breakfast."
"And would you have woken me, if I had been sleeping, to say goodbye?"
The young woman bowed her head in shame. "No, I would not have. Best to make the goodbye as easy as possible." She returned to the table and began to eat. "Don't look so sad. Even birds leave their mother's nests."
"When did you get so wise?" Mathilda wondered aloud. "Why couldn't you just stay the young child forever looking up to her mother?" But, she reminded herself, losing a child to travel is better than losing a child to death.
Emmalyn swallowed the bread in her mouth before replying. "It is past time I make my own way. You've said countless times I should be getting married already. Instead, I am off to find my family."
They fell silent as Emmalyn ate, neither knowing what else to say. Time seemed to move faster to Mathilda, who was dreading the separation. Emmalyn tried not to be too hasty but her excitement of the upcoming journey spurred her on. When she finished, she set her plate in the basin and went to sling her bag over her shoulder. Mathilda followed her and hesitated, suddenly not sure what to do.
Emmalyn opened the door before turning back to the woman she had called mother for so long. "Goodbye, Mother. I shall miss you fiercely. I will send a letter when I arrive to assure you I am safe."
Mathilda's smile didn’t quite reach her eyes. "Come here." She opened her arms and Emmalyn walked to her, welcoming the embrace. Tears pricked her eyes and she pulled away before they fell. Emmalyn grabbed her bow and strung it across her chest. She exclaimed and rushed to her room, grabbing her dagger and sheathing it in her boot. She snatched her sword off the bed and belted it around her waist. Finally, she grabbed her cloak and pinned it together around her neck. As she walked out the door, she paused a moment to press a kiss on Mathilda's cheek. "I love you."
Promptly, she left, her cloak dragging slightly on the ground behind her. Mathilda watched her go, the tears returning. She walked down the gravel path, her bag bouncing against her hip as her curls surrounded her shoulders. When she got to the end, she turned around. Upon seeing her mother in the doorway, she smiled and waved.
Emmalyn had felt her mother's eyes on her the whole time she was walking, which had made her turn around. Sure enough, there she stood. After Mathilda had waved back, she returned inside. Emmalyn shook her head but she couldn't deny the ache in her chest and nervousness in her gut. All she needed to do was head north until she came to a vacant town, then head east. Mathilda had said the way was easy enough, and she had taught her how to decipher direction based on tree moss and the sun.
"I can do this," she told herself. "It's just walking." She heaved a breath and continued walking. As she approached the town she grew up going to, it settled in she may never see this place again. She took in the brown buildings, the animal skins hanging against the butcher's wall, for sale, and the flowers in full bloom even though winter was nearly upon them. They were beautiful but she knew better than to pick one. Once, she had and then she had witnessed just how angry Ms. Wickers could be, threatening to flay her alive if she caught her again.
She smiled at the memory and briefly wondered if she should test her luck for old-time's sake. She wisely chose to walk on without disturbing the blooms. When she passed the store, she glanced inside to see Sarah, the woman she had grown up playing with. When she had turned ten, Mathilda had told her no more friends, to focus on training alone. Emmalyn had rebelled, of course, but it turned out Sarah, too, had to prepare for taking over the store one day. She had been running it for two years now, although she married Clark Lewis, who was by no means poor, and had two children with him already. But she loved it, she had told Emmalyn one day upon questioning. She couldn't see herself doing anything but running her mother's store, which had been her grandmother's before. Emmalyn could respect that.
When she reached the outer gate, she stopped. If she took the next step, she would be taking her first step into a world she had never been introduced to. She could turn around and return home as if nothing was amiss. She started to turn around—
—And froze.
What are you doing? her inner voice demanded. Your family is out there! You've been obsessing this whole week about what your brother looks like and how your birth mother is. You really want to go back and train? And for what? Test your training and venture out into the world. Use your bow, your sword, your dagger, and find what you've known all along was missing.
 Emmalyn glanced around, wondering if anyone had noticed her long pause. No one was there, however, and she stepped through the gate and into the world.

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