YA Scavenger Hunt! Oh yeah, smell it!

Welcome to the time of the year when the sweetest of all essences scent the air. Crisp fall leaves, pumpkin spice everything, and–thanks to YA Scavenger Hunt!–the inky aroma of freshly printed books!

So where have you landed in the greatest booklover’s hunt of all time? Good news! You are currently well on your way to finishing the Orange Team challenge!

And isn’t orange perfect for this time of year, just a stone’s throw from Halloween! Bwahhahahahaha! *evil rubbing of hands*

[In fact, I love All Hallows’ Eve so much, I’m joining with 50+ poets around the country this October for “THE POEMING!” We’re each writing a new found poem every day of October based on a Stephen King novel. That’s another story, but if you’re in interested, you can check it out here.]

And is DREAM BOY (the book I’m giving away for #YASH) all Halloweeny, you ask? Well, the tagline IS…


… so yeah, you could say so.

dream-boy-cover-300.jpgIt’s true that DREAM BOY has some creepy stuff (those suffering from ophiophobia, beware!), but mainly it’s a fun and somewhat funny story about teen Annabelle Manning and her friends in a small fictional town in southwestern Virginia, where the boy from Annabelle’s dreams just happens to show up in her chemistry classroom.

Not only am I giving away a copy of DREAM BOY through the scavenger hunt, but you could also score an super DREAM BOY T-shirt (like the ones below) by entering this special giveaway!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Madelyn and Mary, coauthors of Dream Boy, all tee-d up!

What is the YA Scavenger Hunt? 

It’s a fantastic way to get a huge pile of FANTASTIC FREE books sent to your very doorstep! Plus you can find exclusive bonus material from some of your favorite authors as you follow the steps of the hunt!

Author Colleen Houck came up with YASH over a decade ago. Here’s how it works:

There are six contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the ORANGE TEAM — and you can win a book from each of twenty different amazing authors by following the hunt.

That’s right–TWENTY authors means TWENTY books–all for you!


But that’s not all, you can also enter any of the other YASH contests to win books from the Blue, Gold, Purple, Green or Red teams!

How does it work? 

Directions: Below, you’ll notice that I’ve hidden 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, Oct. 9, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.

Wait! Didn’t you say something about EXCLUSIVE CONTENT? 

Why yes, I did! Today, I am hosting Jacob Devlin, author of THE CARVER, for #YASH, and he has some great stuff for you!



Crescenzo never would’ve thought his father’s figurines were modeled after real people, but when his loved ones start vanishing from his life, he must unite their real life counterparts and seek their aid to save his family.


jacobdevlinWhen Jacob Devlin was four years old, he would lounge around in Batman pajamas and make semi-autobiographical picture books about an adventurous python named Jake the Snake. Eventually, he traded his favorite blue crayon for a black pen, and he never put it down. When not reading or writing, Jacob loves practicing his Italian, watching stand-up comedy, going deaf at rock concerts, and geeking out at comic book conventions. He does most of these things in southern Arizona.


Pietro Volo
Fan Cast:
Chris Pratt
Image result for chris pratt
“By the way, you’re the son of Pinocchio, Kid, and I’m Peter Pan. Wanna stop for some McDonalds?”
Bio: Peter Pan got tired of being a kid, and today he’s a goofy, pizza-loving adult living just outside of Richmond, Virginia. Adulthood has mostly been good to him, giving him a loving wife and a healthy son. Unfortunately, they’ve been missing for a couple of years, leaving him feeling utterly alone.
Songs: Lost Boy by Ruth B, The Idea of Growing Old by The Features

Fan Cast
: Jeremy Renner
Image result for jeremy renner hansel
“You’ll understand if I have some reservations about moving into houses in the woods. They don’t exactly evoke the sweetest memories for me.”
Bio: It wasn’t so long after his famous encounter with the candy house and the Witch of the Woodlands that Hansel’s favorite person, his dear sister, vanished without a trace. He vowed that day that he would do anything to find her and get her back. Anything.
Song: Dark Necessities by The Red Hot Chili Peppers

Crescenzo (Enzo) DiLegno
Fan Cast
: Logan Lerman
Image result for logan lerman
“There’s some really weird stuff going on, and I don’t understand any of it, but you’re casually walking acting like my dad didn’t vanish into thin air!”
Bio: Nobody ever said being fifteen was easy, but Crescenzo is in a particularly weird time in his life. His mom has been out of the picture for a few years, and all his dad wants to do is carve figurines. Oh, and by the way, he just learned that his dad is Pinocchio. That could probably take some getting used to…
Song: There’s a Place by The All-American Rejects

Snow White
Fan Cast:
Zooey Deschanel
Image result for zooey deschanel sketch
“I mustn’t give up hope. I know he’s still alive somewhere.”
Bio: In a world apart, Snow White is freshly awake and quietly settling into her “happily ever after.” She’s found a potential home owner to take over her cottage and she’s ready for her fresh start with her husband. But there are strange things going on in the Woodlands, and soon, she may have to rescue the prince who recently saved her life.
Song: Strange and Beautiful (I’ll Put a Spell on You) by Aqualung

Prince William Chandler Arrington (Liam)
Fan Cast:
Brett Dalton
Image result for brett dalton
“I’ve a lovely wife to return to, and you three are the ones who are going to take me back to her.”
Bio: Prince Liam effortlessly befriends almost everyone he meets, but unfortunately, he’s just as passive as he is charming. He’s never one to strike back in a sword fight or go after a dragon, but everyone knows that would certainly change if Snow White were ever in danger…
Song: Guerriero by Marco Mengoni (Note: This song is in Italian, but you can follow the English translation here!)

Rosana Trujillo
Fan Cast: Ariel Winter
Image result for ariel winter
“I had it under control. I could’ve saved myself, thank you very much.”
Bio: They call her THE GIRL IN THE RED HOOD, but don’t be fooled by her choice of accessories. Rosana is actually the daughter of a girl you know from a different tale, and yet Rosana’s own story is just as strange. She’ll search from the depths of New York’s tunnels to the tops of its buildings until she figures out where her mother disappeared to…
Song: Alive by Sia

Pino DiLegno (Pinocchio)
Fan Cast: Raoul Bova
Image result for Raoul Bova
“These carvings are the key to putting everything back to normal. But … they’re useless unless someone goes out and finds these people.”
Bio: The next-door neighbor and best friend of Pietro Volo, Pino grew up to be a bit of a dreamer, much to the resentment of his fifteen-year-old son. Enzo would prefer that Pino get out into the world and search for Carla, his missing wife, but Pino insists that the most important thing he can do for Carla–and the world–is keep carving…
Song: Dream by Imagine Dragons

Princess Violet
Fan Cast: Danielle Panabaker

“May the light be with you.”
Bio: The fairy guardian of Florindale has quite a resume under her wings. She is directly responsible for turning the puppet Pinocchio into a real boy. She assembled the legendary Order of the Bell together. But has she actually done more harm than good in her mysterious past?
Song: Icarus by Mythos

Hua Mulan
Fan Cast:
Yunjin Kim
Image result for yunjin kim
“I’d use this time to restore my honor if I were you, because I won’t be coming back alone.”
Bio: The great woman warrior of China has seen it all. As one of the original five members of the legendary Order of the Bell, Mulan has sworn to defend the enchanted realms of Florindale from all and any dangers. Whether it’s dragons, giants, or evil queens, call on Mulan. She’s got your back, and she is not to be messed with.
: Towards the Sun by Rhianna

Queen Avoria of Florindale
Fan Cast: Famke Jannsen

“I’ve just woken up, and I must say I feel quite rested.”
Bio: This segment has been flagged for unauthorized distribution of illegal and hazardous data. It has been removed by order of Lord Dominick Bellamy of Florindale.
Song: See What I’ve Become by Zack Hemsey, Broken Mirrors by Rise Against

Bonus Tracks:

Shadows by Lindsey Stirling
Children by Escala
Dustland Fairytale by The Killers

Bonus Material from THE UNSEEN:
The sequel to THE CARVER is slated for release by Blaze Publishing on 5.9.17! Please enjoy this small teaser of the cover for THE UNSEEN and a tiny excerpt of what’s to come!

“The next poor souls to stumble into Wonderland . . . the children . . . shake them up a bit, will you? Break them.”

What’s next? 

Keep going in the Scavenger Hunt! There are ***101 *** reasons why!

Before leaving, though, I want to send a shout out to Adi Rule, author of THE HIDDEN TWIN, for hosting my special content (a sneak peak at my recently completed manuscript, THE UNFORTUNATE ONE).

Also, remember that you need to make a note of the secret number (101) before you leave this page. Leave a comment below, too, and let me know how the hunt is going!

To keep going on your quest for the hunt, check out the next author–Julie Eshbaugh, author of IVORY AND BONE!



YA Scavenger Hunt – with a visit from Karen Bao

Team TealWelcome to YA Scavenger Hunt TEAM TEAL! 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!

There are EIGHT contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of TEAM TEAL–but there are a bunch of other teams that will give you a chance to win a whole different set of books!

In this hunt alone, you could win a set of these 20 books!


dream-boy-cover-300.jpgI’m really psyched that DREAM BOY, which I co-wrote with my good friend Madelyn Rosenberg, is in such great company!

DREAM BOY is about the consequences of your own imagination, lethal high heels, and epic kisses. It was a really fun book to write, as Madelyn and I mixed romance and suspense in a story that centers on one of my favorite subjects–the weirdness of dreams!

“Eerie, twisty, fast and funny, Dream Boy will forever change the way you see your dreams – and your nightmares. An exciting, imaginative look at what might happen when people from the corners of your mind suddenly show up in your real life.” – Lois Metzger, author of A Trick of the Light

But wait! I promised exclusive content, didn’t I? Plus that elusive NUMBER that you need to participate in the hunt! Read on!

Today, I am hosting Karen Bao!


Here’s what Karen says about herself: “My childhood in New Jersey was full of music, books, stargazing, and buggy science ‘experiments’ on the playground. As a high school senior, I wrote Dove Arising when I should have been doing my homework. I now study environmental biology at college in New York City, soaking up inspiration for future books.”

Check out Karen’s website or find more about Dove Arising!

RisingCoverPhaet Theta has lived her whole life in a colony on the Moon. She’s barely spoken since her father died in an accident nine years ago. She cultivates the plants in Greenhouse 22, lets her best friend talk for her, and stays off the government’s radar.

Then her mother is arrested.

The only way to save her younger siblings from the degrading Shelter is by enlisting in the Militia, the faceless army that polices the Lunar bases and protects them from attacks by desperate Earth-dwellers. Training is brutal, but it’s where Phaet forms an uneasy but meaningful alliance with the preternaturally accomplished Wes, a fellow outsider.

Rank high, save her siblings, free her mom: that’s the plan. Until Phaet’s logically ordered world begins to crumble…

Suspenseful, intelligent, and hauntingly prescient, Dove Arising stands on the shoulders of our greatest tales of the future to tell a story that is all too relevant today.

Exclusive content: Click here to explore the world of DOVE ARISING.


Karen’s favorite number is Phaet’s favorite number. Oddly enough, it’s also my favorite number and the number of contests in the YA Scavenger Hunt. It’s also the number of times my daughter re-recorded the voice-over for the Dream Boy book trailer, trying to get it just right: 8!

Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the TEAM TEAL and you’ll have all the secret code to enter for the grand prize!

Directions: Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the teal 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, Oct 4th at noon Pacific time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.


To keep going on your quest for the hunt, you need to check out the next author, L.H. Nicole!

(You can also check out Victoria Strauss, who will be hosting an exclusive video from me!)

Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt.

Cover Reveal – The May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude and #Giveaway – “A chilling tale that resonates with dark beauty”

Check out this super-spooky cover from horror author Sarah Jude for THE MAY QUEEN MURDERS (coming May 3, 2016 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).


Two girls: one with a secret, one with a promise that she’d uncover it.

Welcome to Rowan’s Glen—a place full of old fashioned superstition and secrets. Twenty-five years back, a teenage girl was murdered after being crowned queen at the Glen’s May Day celebration, and outsiders have regarded the isolated farming community with suspicion ever since.

But that was before Ivy Templeton was even born. She’s lived in Rowan’s Glen for all of her sixteen years, and feels safe there with the company of her free-spirited cousin Heather, and their friend, Rook, son of the sheriff.

Until . . . animals start showing up dead, clearly from unnatural means. Dark omens seem to appear everywhere Ivy goes. And Heather, who used to tell Ivy everything, is sneaking off after dark with a mysterious lover.

Ivy worries her cousin could be in danger—especially after Heather is elected queen of the May Day celebration. When Heather goes missing, Ivy must come to terms with the fact that she never knew her beloved cousin—or Rowan’s Glen—as well as she thought she did.

Readers looking for horror, romance, and suspense will find it all in this chilling tale that resonates with dark beauty.

Sarah Jude Author photoWho is Sarah Jude?

Sarah Jude lives by the woods and has an owl that lands on her chimney every night. She grew up believing you had to hold your breath whenever you passed a graveyard or a bridge spanning water. Now she writes about cemeteries, murder, and ghostly apparitions. She resides in Missouri with her husband, three children, and three dogs.
You can find her on Twitter here.

And best of all, there’s an awesome giveaway at Young Adult Books Central.

One international winner will receive a prize pack that includes:

  • a signed ARC of THE MAY QUEEN MURDERS (when available in September)
  • a handmade ivy leaf pendant

One US winner will receive a prize pack that includes:

  • a signed ARC of THE MAY QUEEN MURDERS (when available in September)
  • swag
  • a handmade ivy leaf pendant
  • a custom herbal loose tea blend called Sleep-Away-Sorrow designed to promote relaxation
  • a sustainable, reusable muslin tea bag

You can enter the giveaway here.

And while, you’re at it, add THE MAY QUEEN MURDERS to your TBR list on Goodreads or pre-order a copy.

READ or WRITE ANYWHERE Summer Reading Campaign! Mystery Photo & Giveaway

It’s just about that time again. The first flash of a firefly, the tinkle of the ice cream truck…

But just because summer is coming doesn’t mean we should stop reading and writing. That’s why I’ve teamed up with the YA Chicks and many participating authors on a global campaign to encourage readers, writers, students, and teachers to share pictures all of the places—both ordinary and extraordinary—where they are reading and writing.

And, if you’re looking for A MONSTER GIVEAWAYto get your summer, started, good new! YOU’VE HIT THE MOTHER LODE!

I, for one, will be giving away a copy of my beloved DREAM BOY.


But wait! That’s not all! For teachers, I’ll also be giving away a 20 minute Skype session and, for writers, a query critique.

In fact, every author participating in this campaign is giving away books, critiques, swag and/or Skype visits. Pretty awesome, right?


So are you ready to guess where I’m writing?

Drum roll, please…


Can you guess where I am? Here are some clues to get you started:

  • I’m writing outside an eatery in the Star City of the South.
  • The restaurant’s doors first opened in 1930.
  • It is one of the few places in the U.S. where you can order “chile” instead of “chili.”
  • If you ask for ketchup there, the server mocks you for wanting “sissy sauce.”
  • A fictionalized version of the restaurant appears in Chapter 19 of DREAM BOY.

Once you’ve figured out where I’m reading/writing (author: choose one), head over to the YA Chicks site and:

  • Officially enter the giveaway by inputting each author’s name and your guesses about our locations. Every author location you guess correctly increases your chances to win.  
  • For even more chances, post a picture of yourself reading or writing on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #ReadOrWriteAnywhere (must have the hashtag). 

For writer prize packs:

  • Post pictures of yourself writing in a fun location on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #ReadOrWriteAnywhere. Then follow the directions on the Rafflecopter giveaway to let us know you did it.
  • For even more chances, gather your writer friends together and post a group shot with the hashtag #ReadOrWriteAnywhere (must have the hashtag). And hey, since you’re already together, why not host a write-a-thon?

For teacher prize packs:

  • Post pictures of your class reading or writing on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #ReadOrWriteAnywhere (must have the hashtag).
  • Then let us know you did it when you enter the Rafflecopter. If you don’t have a Twitter or Instagram, you can email your picture directly with the picture pasted directly into the email (no attachments–we won’t open them) AND the subject, “Read or Write Anywhere.”
  • You can also check out the YA Chicks Read or Write Anywhere lesson plan, available here

Now, what are you waiting for? Get out there and READ OR WRITE ANYWHERE!


YA Scavenger Hunt! With a deleted scene from SOME BOYS by author PATTY BLOUT!



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 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 GREEN TEAM–but there eight teams–RED, BLUE, GOLD, GREEN, ORANGE, TEAL, PURPLE, & PINK-each with 20 authors!

Team Green

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.


Below, you’ll notice that I’ve listed my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the green 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, April 5th at noon Pacific time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.


About Patty

Patty spends her days writing facts and her nights writing contemporary romantic fiction. A coworker once said if Patty were a super-villain, she’d be called The Quibbler. Her costume would be covered in exclamation points. Fueled by a serious chocolate obsession, a love of bad science-fiction movies, and a weird attraction to exclamation points, Patty looks for ways to mix business with pleasure, mining her day job for ideas to use in her fiction.


Find out more about Patty by checking out her website or picking up a copy of Some Boys!


Some Boys go too far. Some Boys don’t see you. Some Boys will break your heart. But One Boy can make you whole. When Grace meets Ian she’s afraid. Afraid he’ll reject her like the rest of the school, like her own family. Call her a slut and a liar. But…he doesn’t. He’s funny and kind with secrets of his own. But how do you trust the best friend of the boy who raped you? How do you believe in love?


Give me the keys — now.”

With one of the trademark glares I’d started classifying when I was about six — this one is Stern Cold Steve Russell, a particular favorite — my dad holds out his hand and wiggles his fingers.

Fine.” I dig the keys out of my pocket, toss them at him. It’s pointless to defend myself, pointless to say that I haven’t used his car for the past two days. My dad doesn’t do conversation. He sees everything I say as back talk, so I just don’t talk.

Ian, I’ve had it with you.” He snatches the keys from the air. “I’m tired of your attitude and your lack of respect. Maybe a few days without a car will teach you that driving is a privilege, not a right. When I get into my car, I expect there to be exactly the same amount of gas still in it as I left it. I’m on call and if I get called in, I shouldn’t have to fill up my gas tank first.”

Yes, Dad.” I say with my eyes down because inside, I’m thinking, fuck you and your empty gas tank. Why don’t you go interrogate Claudia or Val? They both used the car but they’re perfect and always innocent.

Ian, I don’t like your tone.”

I rolled my eyes. “All I said was yes, dad.

A flush of anger creeps up my dad’s face and up to his bald spot. “You think I don’t know you’re cursing me out inside that thick skull of yours? You think I’m some kind of moron?”

Yeah, actually, I do. “No, Dad.”

And now, you’re lying.” He points toward the stairs. “Go to your room. You’re in for the night.”

And now he’s grounding me for what I’m thinking. “As you wish.” I say with a smile because I know it pisses him off and head up to my room. I’ll sneak out as soon as he heads to the hospital and turns into Dr. Steve Russell, Saver of Lives and Limbs Across Long Island!

And don’t even think about sneaking out.” He shouts after me.

Yeah, too late.

Dad slams the front door on his way out to the car I haven’t driven for two days. I watch him from the window of my room and kick my closet door. I fling myself on the bed, muttering curses. The car had almost a full tank of gas in it when I left it at the curb the day before yesterday. I’m not staying in tonight just because Dad thinks I need to be taught another lesson. There’s a big party tonight. This afternoon, we played our last home game of the season and won. Tonight, beer. Girls. Music. Hanging out. No way in hell I’m missing that, especially for something I didn’t even do. I grab my cell, text Jeremy, tell him to swing by and pick me up.

A knock on my door makes me snarl. “What.”

The door opens and my sister pokes her head in. “What was the fight about this time?”

Butt out, Val.” I say, but Val heard Come on in, make yourself comfortable. She bounces on my bed, sending my cell phone sailing into the air. I catch it before it crashes. “Go away.” I shove her — not hard. She gets even by pulling a tuft of my leg hair.

Ow, shit! Val, will you just get out of here?” Val’s a college freshman and I swear, she spends more time home than at school just to torture me.

Not until you tell me.” She twirls a lock of long brown hair and pops her gum. I try not to throw up. She knows I hate gum. The sight of chewed up rubber freaks me out.

With a loud sigh, I surrender. “He took the keys because he thinks I used all the gas.”

Did you?”

I give her half a laugh. “Like that matters? He thinks I did, so therefore I must be guilty.”

Seriously, did you forget to fill up?”

I toss hair out of my eyes and shake my head. “I put gas in the car Monday and haven’t used it since.”

Ah. Monday. Um, yeah. This may be my fault. I used the car yesterday. Didn’t put gas in it.”

I slant my head and glare. “Thanks. Thanks a lot.”

Why didn’t you tell him you haven’t used the car?”

I slant my head the other way. “Have you met Dad? You really think that would have helped?”

Oh, come on. He’s not an asshole, Ian.”

He is to me. I’m not one of his perfect daughters pulling straight A’s at a swanky school on a scholarship or working at his hospital in his field.”

Claudia’s a nurse, he’s a doctor.”

Yet another glare. “Still medicine.”

She blows a tiny gum bubble and I gag. “Jesus, Val!” I shove off my bed and start pawing through the clothes on the floor, looking for something that doesn’t smell too bad.

Oh my God, will you get over yourself? It’s just gum not a rattle snake.”

I’d rather face the snake. I glance at my phone and wonder why the hell Jeremy hasn’t texted back. I try Zac next and strip off my shirt. “I’m taking a shower. Don’t let the door hit you,” I grab clean-ish clothes and wave at her over my shoulder.


I curse and turn around. Val’s got my phone pressed to her face. “No, it’s me, Daddy. I heard you and Ian fighting and figured I should tell you I was the one who used your car without refilling it…No, I’m not lying for him… Yes, I really used the car. Okay. Sure. Bye.”

Val tosses my phone back to my bed. “All fixed. You’re ungrounded.”

Just like that.”

She grins around another bubble. “Just like that.”

I slap a hand to my mouth. “That is so freakin’ gross.”

Val shrugs. “You know, a thank you would be entirely appropriate right now.

I toss a towel over my shoulder and shake my head. “Let me get this straight. I’m supposed to thank you for getting me ungrounded after you got me grounded in the first place?”

She rocks her head and grins. “Um, yeah.”

I take the towel, spin it until it’s tight and snap her bare leg with it.

Ow, Jesus God in Heaven, that hurt, Ian.” She rubs her thigh, a tiny wrinkle forming on her forehead.

Careful. Your face could freeze like that.” I grin and then laugh when Val immediately un-frowns.

Girls are so easy to mess with.

Okay, look,” she shifts on my bed, all serious. “You and Dad need to stop all this chest-pounding and figure out how to get along… for Mom.”

Looks like I’m never getting into the shower today. I sit beside her and sigh. “It’s not chest-pounding and it’s not a pissing contest or any of the other dozen alpha male sayings you’re saving up. It’s not even a contest at all — he’s already picked the winner.”

Val presses her lips together. “You mean me.”

And Claudia, yeah. It’s obvious Dad likes you guys more than me.”

Oh, come off it, Ian!” She waves a hand at me in disgust. “You’re piling it on a bit thick.”

Am I? Let’s go to the instant replay, shall we? Claudia played field hockey and you played basketball — both sports he played. He went to those games. I play Lacrosse. Has he seen me play? Not since I was in middle school. Why? Because it’s a sport he has no interest in.”

Val stubbornly shakes her head. “Not his fault. That’s the new job.”

Dad’s the head of orthopedic surgery at Laurel Brook Hospital, a job he landed when I was a sophomore. “Okay, fine. Let’s talk about grades. Remember when you got that 64 on a math test? What happened to you?”

My sister sucks in her cheek and refuses to answer. So I remind her. “I’ll tell you what happened. Nothing. But when I failed a test, I’m grounded and forced to register for tutoring.”

Ian, the difference is I care about my grades and my GPA. You don’t. You fail tests all the time.”

I suck in a sharp breath. I do not fail tests all the time. I struggle with math along with every other kid my age who’s not a nerd. “I care. Just not that much.”

There you go. Maybe if you cared more, he wouldn’t come down so hard on you.” Val grabs my phone, checks the time. “Look. Even though you’re ungrounded, you don’t have car keys and this was sort of my fault and all.”

I snort but Val barrels right over it.

Andrea’s coming to pick me up in about twenty minutes. We can drop you where you were supposed to be.”

I leap up. “Really? Cool. Have to shower, change. Don’t leave without me!” I shout over my shoulder as I jog to the bathroom.

Fifteen minutes later, I smell halfway decent and head downstairs. Mom is on the sofa, channel surfing. “Hey, Mom. Where’s Val?”

Oh, she just left with her friend, Andrea.” My mom shifts brown eyes from the TV to me. “Are you and your sister hanging out together?”

I didn’t hear anything after ‘she just left.’ I will kill her! I will piss on every stick of gum in her stash! I turn on my heel, hurl the front door open, still brainstorming revenge.

Hey, high school boy.”

I skid to a stop. Andrea is tall, blonde, stacked, and stars in pretty much all of my fantasies. “Hey, college girl.” I jerk my chin at her. She’s leaning against her car, a blue Toyota I hear her parents bought her when she graduated high school. She’s wearing jeans with high heels, always a killer combination.

Val tells me we’re dropping you someplace?”

I jog down the three steps that lead from our front door to the walkway, join her at the side of the car. “Yeah. Late for a party.”

Party, huh? Where at?”

In the woods, over by the train station.”

Right, the woods. Good times.” She smiles and tosses her hair over her shoulder and I swear, my knees buckled. She smells like rain. Shit, I sound like a chick flick, but it’s true. She smells like rain.

Hey, moron, stop staring at Andrea’s boobs and let Hershey back in.”

I snap around, find Val in the street. I snatch the dog’s leash from her hand and jog back up the walk before Andrea can tell that’s exactly where I was looking.

Mom!” I call. Hershey’s coming back in!” I unfasten the leash from the dog’s collar, give her a little scratch between her ears, and close the door. She gives one deep Woof! In thanks.

You guys are so original, naming a brown dog Hershey.” Andrea slides behind the wheel. I head back down the steps and climb in her backseat.

What? She’s a chocolate lab. It’s the perfect name for her.”

Andrea gives me an amused look from the rearview while Val wrestles with her seatbelt. “It’s a pun. You used a pun to name your dog.”

I didn’t give her the damn name, my mother did. I shrug and check my phone. There are now three texts — all from Jeremy. The first one is a photo message.

Look who’s here!

The picture attached shows Grace Collier, the hottest girl in my school, with her lips wrapped around a bottle.

Damn, those lips. My pulse races. I can’t wait to get there. Rumor has it that Grace has a little thing for me and I plan to confirm it. The next message is straight to the point.

Bro, WTF? You were supposed to be here at 6! Bring more beer.

Yeah, that’s not happening.

The last message is also a picture text.

Grace is getting lonely. Don’t worry. I’m keeping her company.

In this shot, Grace is dancing with Zac. She’s got her arms around his neck and her mouth is split wide open in what looks like a really loud laugh. I narrow my eyes. She’s wearing a short skirt with black leather boots that go all the way to her thighs. Her long dark hair tumbles in a wild mess down to her waist. Her eyes are closed in this picture. That’s okay. I know what they look like. They’re a silvery blue color. Big deal. It’s not the color; it’s the expression. Grace looks at you and you see one of two things, depending on how she feels about you. If she’s interested in whatever it is you got, her eyes light up — like moon beams or something.

God, again with the chick flick stuff? I really need a beer.

If she’s not interested in you, her eyes are flat. Dead. It’s like somebody unplugged her.

Flat eyes or not, there’s no denying it. Grace Collier is fucking hot.

I tap my fingers on my thigh, wishing Andrea knew how to actually reach the speed limit. She turns north instead of south and I can’t take it anymore. “Hey, you’re going the wrong way.”

Relax, high school boy. We just need to make a quick stop first.”

I swallow down a few curses. It’s not like I have a choice, right? But when Andrea turns into the parking lot of a CVS/Pharmacy, I groan out loud. I have two sisters. When girls go to CVS, it’s either for feminine hygiene products or worse, cosmetics. I’ve seen my mother and sisters waste an hour arguing — actually arguing — over the differences between Candy Apple Red and Strawberry Crush, like officials trying to decide the outcome of a close game. This is going to be anything but quick.

I stay in the car, watch them laugh and toss their hair as they stride across the lot and into the store, pretending not to notice the guy in the Mustang waiting to back out of his spot. Five minutes go by, then ten. I can’t take it anymore. I’m probably two or three miles from the woods where we party. I can run that distance in about twenty minutes. Of course, I’ll need another fucking shower after I do, which essentially will kill any shot I may have with Grace Collier. I glance back at the store. I could buy a can of deodorant, run there, spray myself. Ditch the can, hang out for about ten minutes while the gas cloud dissipates. I curse and punch Andrea’s door. I have no hope of getting laid tonight.


I shove out of the car and start jogging. I’ll run most of the way and slow to a walk. Hopefully, that will be enough to cool down and I won’t smell like the inside of my equipment bag.

Fifteen minutes later, I’m walking down the road, trying to get my breathing back under control. The weather’s still cool for spring, but at least it’s dry and I’m not a sticky, sweaty mess. When that blue Toyota passes me by, horn honking, I raise a finger. As soon as Val shows everybody her new lipstick or nail polish or whatever the hell it took her thirty minutes to pick out, I’ll squint and study her appearance and tell her it looks green.

Works every time. Like I said — girls are so easy to mess with.

I turn off the road onto the path that parallels the railroad tracks. The station is still another mile down the road. The woods are just undeveloped buffer property to help control sound, but it doesn’t work. I take out the flashlight I took from my room, click it on and walk deeper into the dark. Why don’t I hear any tunes or laughter? Did they decide to stay in the parking lot? I dig for my phone and call Jeremy.

Bro, where the hell you at?” He says instead of hello.

I’m in the woods, where are you?”

Uh, yeah, the party broke up early. Cops.”

Jesus, no shit?” Good thing I missed it. My dad would have killed me if I added an arrest to my many sins.

Everybody booked, man. So where the hell were you?”

My old man grounded me again. I couldn’t sneak out until now.”

Damn, that sucks.”

I snort out half a laugh. “You have no idea. So, where are you now? Can you get me? I don’t have a car and I’m in the woods.”

Uh, sorry, bro. I’m about to jump in the shower. Things got pretty wild,” Jeremy says with a leer I can hear through the phone and I don’t need the details.

No problem. Later.” I end the call before he can brag.

Jeremy Lynch plays defense on my Lacrosse team. He’s a natural. Whole team respects him. Off the field’s a different story. He’s more Zac’s friend than mine, so when he offered me a ride the last two days, I was kind of surprised. He’s okay, I guess, but his stupid jokes get old fast. I keep walking, figure I can hop the tracks and shave half a mile off my hike home. The beam from my flashlight glints off a pile of bottles, a scrap of pink lace that a closer look tells me are panties. Holy hell, looks like I missed a great party.

I swing the flashlight in an arc around the clearing where an old railroad tie marks party central. The place is wrecked. Empty bottles, cigarette butts, cardboard six-pack carriers… and a, well — hey now — a bra. Yeah, I missed a really great party. I sink down to the railroad tie and stretch out my tired legs, hoping there’s a beer or two my friends missed in all this mess. I paw through the bottles and cartons and find a high heel shoe. I run the beam from the sole up and discover it’s a boot, actually.

With a leg still inside it.

Jesus! Oh, my God! I slide off the railroad tie, scramble away, can’t move far enough — can’t move fast enough. Jesus Christ. It’s a body. A girl. Oh, no. No, no, no, no. It’s Grace Collier.

My hands shake and I pray over and over. Please don’t be dead. Please don’t be dead. I touch her shoulder, give her a little shake. Her eyes fly open, wide and afraid, and she curls into a ball, skirt riding high on her thighs.

In the beam of my light, I can see the blood.

~ ~ ~

Crazy, right? Thanks to Patty for sharing!

Don’t forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of signed books by me, hosted author’s name, and more! To enter, you need to know that my favorite number is 8. Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the green team and you’ll have all the secret code to enter for the grand prize!

But before you go, enter this EXCLUSIVE GIVEAWAY for 3 made-to-order haiku!

Yes, you heard right! I will write 3 made-to-order haiku for the winner of the contest. You tell me the occasion or some subject for your haiku and I’ll send you 3 little poems!

Why? Because it’s fun!

And now…


To keep going on your quest for the hunt, you need to check out the next author — Stacy Stokes!


A History of the T-Shirt – Plus Giveaway – Signed Copy and DREAM BOY T-shirt!

To cMaryandMadelynDreamBoyTshirtselebrate our half-year anniversary (not to mention the 102 anniversary of the T-shirt!), the lovely Madelyn Rosenberg and I are giving away a copy of DREAM BOY signed by both of us — plus a groovy DREAM BOY t-shirt. You can enter on Goodreads.

As our readers are aware, the quirky, geeky Will is a T-shirt aficionado. So I’m offering here a few tid-bits about T-shirt history (which are new to me–but Will probably already knows).

T Shirt History1913: T-shirt ( so-called for the T-shape it makes) first used as a light undershirt for sailors in the Navy

1920: the word “T-shirt” first included in the dictionary

1932: Jockey International designs a modern T-shirt to absorb sweat for the University of Southern California Trojans football team

1Gob Tshirt938: Sears sells a 24-cent T-shirt called a “gob” shirt and marketed as either an outer-shirt or undershirt.

It did NOT look like this. (WTF is a gob anyway?)

1940s (early): Marines uses the Navy-style white tee dyed with coffee grounds to avoid being an easy target in the field

1940s (late): printed T-shirts enter the scene, such as the Smithsonian’s oldest printed tee, “Dew-It with Dewey,” from the 1948 presidential campaign of New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey

Dewey T Shirt

1951: Marlon Brando yells “STELLA!” while wearing a T-shirt in A Streetcar Named Desire

1955: James Dean rebels with no apparent cause — while wearing a T-shirt!James_Dean_in_Rebel_Without_a_Cause

1970s: Iron-on transfer developed

2006: Matt McAllister earns a Guinness World Record by donning 155 T-shirts at the same time

2007: Aaron Waltke beats McAllister’s record by simultaneously wearing 160 shirts

** Look for upcoming post on the top T-shirt slogans, and my person top ten shirts!