Post Title:  YA Scavenger Hunt

Welcome to the spring 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! Also, I’ll be hosting my own giveaway. To enter the drawing, answer this question in the comment box: The inspiration for my third YA novel, GIRLS ON THE VERGE (out April 9th), was the seminal (as far as I’m concerned) road trip movie Thelma and Louise, which is about two friends supporting one other to the end. What is your favorite road trip movie, song, or personal road trip memory? Three winners will be drawn randomly. Prizes are book themed, of course! Please check back here on April 7th after noon PST to see if you’re a winner. Alternatively, you can send your contact info to me at .

Hey, look at all the amazing authors on the RED TEAM!

Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are FIVE contests going on simultaneously each with twenty authors, and you can enter one contest or all of them! I am a part of the RED TEAM–but there is also a blue team, a gold team, a green team, and a purple team.

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: In my post, you’ll notice that I’ve hidden my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the RED 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 7th, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.


Today, I am hosting Joyce Scarborough, author of AFTER ME, for the YA Scavenger Hunt! Let’s give Joyce 52 rounds of applause!

Joyce Scarbrough author of AFTER ME

About Joyce Scarbrough

The former senior editor for Champagne Books, Joyce now does freelance editing and writes full time. She writes both adult and YA fiction and has seven published novels as well as short stories in multiple anthologies.

About AFTER ME from the Unfinished Series.

After she’s murdered by a sexual predator, 18-year-old Jada Gayle must stay among the living until she finds and stops the internet stalker who killed her. Assigned to a foster home back among the living, she assumes the identity of a homeless teen and is expected to simply fit in as she hunts down her killer.

Find out more information by heading over to Joyce’s Website or find more about the author’s book here: AFTER ME!



Sneak Peek of AFTER YOU

The Unfinished Series, Book Two

Chapter One

Takeoff initiated as soon as the Corvette’s tires hit the pavement. All systems were go. Flying already with not even a quarter mile gone. Making the ‘Vette fly was the only thing that helped when the explosions started up inside him again, and there was one helluva firestorm going on in there now. 

Wade ran his hand lovingly over the dash. “This is it, baby. Time to give it all we got, pedal to the metal and all that shit.” He laughed and watched the speedometer needle move steadily to the right. “The old man’s counting on me to screw up again, and I sure wouldn’t wanna disappoint him one last time.”

The headlights sliced a path in the dark, the scenery flying past as indistinguishable shadows. The only break in the blackness came from an occasional streetlight on the few side roads and the North Star shining brighter than all the others around it in the cloudless autumn sky.

“He’s really pissed at me this time,” Wade said. “He’ll be hell bent on making me pay, and we both know he’s always had a talent for hitting me where it hurts the most. But I’m not gonna let him win this time, baby. No sir, he’s gonna have to go to Plan B.”

The needle hit seventy and Wade smiled. The split pine he’d always used as the point of no return was gone now—taken with the thousands of other trees felled when Hurricane Frederic hit Mobile the year before—but that was okay. Wade was sure he’d be well over his previous record when he reached the curve.

“Nope, not gonna let him take you this time, baby. Me and you gotta stick together. Can’t let him bust us up.” He pushed a cassette into the slot, and the guitar solo at the end of “Free Bird” soared out of the speakers.

The speedometer read seventy-eight.

“Gonna be airborne soon!” Wade shouted over the music. “Gonna look down on the old man and just laugh my ass off.” His hands caressed the steering wheel. “It’s always been you and me, baby. True love, just like Jeana said.”

As soon as he said her name, his smile disappeared and tears rolled down his cheeks, but he swiped them away and looked at the speedometer again. Coming up on eighty-five, the music accelerating along with the ‘Vette.

“Don’t get sidetracked, dumbass! Gotta stay focused. Can’t think about Jeana and how she looked at me tonight, or the way she told the old man off, or how it felt when she hugged me for the—”

His eyes widened and he took his foot off the accelerator at the same instant the headlights reflected off the warning signs. What the hell was wrong with him? He stomped the brake, causing the car’s rear end to fishtail just enough to put the driver’s side to the fore when the Corvette took flight into the curve.

Seconds before impact with the tenacious scrub oak that had managed to escape Frederic’s wrath, Wade had just long enough to whisper, “I’m sorry, Redhot. I didn’t mean to spoil your birthday.”

~ * ~

His eyes aren’t working and there’s something stiff around his neck. He can’t see who’s doing all the yelling, but he hears the whoop-whoop-whoopof a helicopter and feels hands rolling him onto some kind of board. That’s all he feels, and he knows he should probably be thankful for that. He wishes he could tell them all to just leave him the hell alone, but his voice isn’t working either.

Everything goes away for a while. 

Then he’s awake again and doesn’t hear the helicopter anymore, but there are even more people yelling now, all of them pulling and poking at him. He hears hospital sounds too—beeps and whooshes and metal clanking. Don’t they know it’s too late? He really screwed up bad this time and there’s no coming back from it. He can’t black out again no matter how hard he tries, so he does the next best thing and goes away to the only place he’s ever been happy.

He’s ten years old and can’t stop smiling because Jeana is going swimming with him, and he’ll have her all to himself. Billy Joe is on vacation in Gulf Shores with his folks, and Jeana’s bratty sister has a cast on her arm and can’t tag along like she usually does. 

They’re at the pool and he’s showing off for her with half-gainers and handstands. He challenges her to a Dead Man’s Float contest and lets her win so he can look at the way her hair gets all billowy around her when she’s in the water. She laughs and teases him about winning so he pretends to be upset, but the truth is the way she looks when she laughs is what he sees in his dreams.

A storm comes and they have to leave the pool. They take shelter at the school on the way home because she’s afraid of the lightning, and he can’t believe he has her in his arms, close enough to smell the heavenly scent of her hair that even the chlorine from the pool can’t mask. He touches one of her curls and thinks it must be what it feels like to touch strands of silk. For once his stupid brain doesn’t fail him, and he thinks of a way to keep her from being frightened. When she kisses him on the cheek before they leave and looks at him like he’s a hero or something, he knows he will love her as long as he lives . . .

“Pressure’s dropping—he’s flatlining!”

“Give him an amp of epi!”

. . . as long as he lives. . . 

“Asystole. We lost him.”

 . . .as long as he lives.

“Shit. Call it.”

And longer . . . 

~ * ~

When he opened his eyes again, he was in some kind of pristine waiting room, sitting across from a girl wearing a long white dress. He looked down and saw that he was also clad in all white—pants, shirt and shoes. What the hell was going on?

“Hey, where are we?” he asked the girl, but she only put a finger to her lips and pointed at the wall behind him. He got up to see what she was pointing at and saw a sign lettered in gold paint. 


On the door to the right of his chair was another sign. 


“You gotta be kidding me.”

AFTER YOU Releasing Summer 2019

Don’t forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of books by me, Joyce Scarbrough, and more! To enter, you need to find my favorite number somewhere in this post (hint: it’s highlighted in red).  Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the RED 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! Marsha Black



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Good news about a book is always a fabulous way to start a Monday. My upcoming young adult novel, GIRLS ON THE VERGE, was chosen by NetGalley to feature in the their homepage placement this week. There are so many books for them to choose from and they chose mine! So that’s very cool. If you’d like to take a look head on over here— NetGalley

Also, School Library Journal gave GIRLS ON THE VERGE a starred review, which makes my heart sing! Libraries are just about the best things in the world, as far as I’m concerned. If you love books and libraries as much as I do, check out Susan Orleans new book, THE LIBRARY BOOK, my favorite book of 2018. It’s about the terrible LA library in the 1980s, but it’s also a love story to books and libraries, and an important examination about how important these institutions are to civilization. Think about it—it’s probably the last free place on earth a person can go to get information, read books for free, receive assistance with just about anything, and most importantly, libraries are safe spaces for everyone to gather, no matter who they are. So go read Susan’s book and visit your local library! The librarians are waiting for you.

Anyway…here is my review!


Gr 9 Up–This compelling novel opens with a stark and timely reminder of a woman’s right to choose in June 2014, when there were only 19 abortion clinics left in Texas, a state which included five million women of reproductive age. Camille, ready to spend her summer at an advanced drama camp, is horrified to find herself pregnant from her first and only sexual encounter, and unwilling to give her future up for a baby with a boy she’s never spoken to again. Knowing she would be disappointing her parents and unwilling to tell them, Camille tries repeatedly to solve her problem, before setting off with two friends determined to help her: Annabelle because she believes in the right to choose, and Bea because she is Camille’s friend. Waller realistically depicts the 17-year-old’s struggles to get an abortion, from ending up at a clinic where she’s prayed over, with a doctor who won’t do anything without parental consent, to facing a judge who won’t bypass parental consent as he’s sure he’s doing what’s best for her. This title offers realistic viewpoints on teenage pregnancy, along with what it is like to have the right to choose, wanting that right, and living knowing that you will be judged for having exercised it. An author’s note details what inspired this personal story and additional information on Roe v. Wade. VERDICT A first purchase.–Betsy Fraser, ­Calgary Public Library, Canada

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Lovely things are happening with my third book, GIRLS ON THE VERGE. In the run-up to its release on April 9th, reviews are starting to roll in. This week GIRLS ON THE VERGE received a stellar review from the notoriously-difficult-to-impress Kirkus Reviews. I can’t post the entire review until the end of January, but I can share a blurb (see below). I’m most excited about the comparison to Judy Blume’s teen novel FOREVER. Blume’s book about a teen’s first sexual experience and all the emotions that go with it was an important book for me. So important that when I read the book today I’m whisked back to my teenage years when I had so many questions.

GIRLS ON THE VERGE was also included in Cosmopolitan’s list of 15 books you won’t be able to put down in 2019. This one is a dream come true for me because other authors listed include Oprah, Elizabeth Gilbert, Margaret Atwood, Angie Thomas, and the My Favorite Murder podcasters, Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark. Head on over here to have a look: Cosmopolitan.

And lastly, Fierce Reads are hosting a giveaway on Goodreads of 15 advanced reader copies of GIRLS ON THE VERGE from February 8th to February 15th. Click on the link to enter, or go here: Giveaway.

And here is the Kirkus blurb! Waller’s (The FORBIDDEN ORCHID, 2016, etc.) book is highly informative, filled with frank, detailed descriptions of our nation’s restrictions on reproductive health as well as the emotional and physical experiences of abortion. A Forever-esque story for reproductive justice, this is a timely and vital book. 

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I’m happy to share the cover to my third young adult novel, GIRLS ON THE VERGE, which will be out spring of 2019 through Henry Holt Books for Young Readers.  Gosh, that seems a long way away, but in the publishing world a year isn’t all that much.

I adore my cover.  The tire treads represent the positive sign found on pregnancy tests. And the neato punk-pink is just beyond.  The cover was designed by the amazing Katie Klim and the lettering was created by the equally amazing Letterettes.

Exciting business for authors, these book covers.  It makes the book feel very real, as if writing the story, going through edits and copyedits and proofreading isn’t enough! And by the way, before you ask, authors have little to no say over the cover.  But I have no complaints.  I love all my covers.

So here it is!

A powerful, timely coming-of-age story about a young woman from Texas who goes on a road trip with two friends to get an abortion, from award-winning author Sharon Biggs Waller.

Camille couldn’t be having a better summer. But on the very night she learns she got into a prestigious theater program, she also finds out she’s pregnant. She definitely can’t tell her parents. And her best friend, Bea, doesn’t agree with the decision Camille has made.

Camille is forced to try to solve her problem alone . . . and the system is very much working against her. At her most vulnerable, Camille reaches out to Annabelle Ponsonby, a girl she only barely knows from the theater. Happily, Annabelle agrees to drive her wherever she needs to go. And in a last-minute change of heart, Bea decides to come with.

Girls on the Verge is an incredibly timely novel about a woman’s right to choose. Sharon Biggs Waller brings to life a narrative that has to continue to fight for its right to be told, and honored.

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I’ve always been fascinated by process, especially when it comes to craft—painting, sculpting, sewing, knitting, woodwork, writing—all of it holds endless fascination for me. I love how a person can create something useful or beautiful from humble material and thin air. Although I’ve been a published writer for a good chunk of my life, I love to hear other authors discuss their process. The ways we approach our work is ever changing, always evolving, and there’s so much to learn from one another.

If you’re of the same mind, you might be interested in a podcast called LAUNCH, which I love, love. LAUNCH, presented by screenwriter and author John Austin, takes us step-by-step through the book creation process. Austin, debut author of ARLO FINCH IN THE VALLEY OF FIRE, a recently released middle grade novel from Roaring Book Press, takes us from idea to publishing through Austin’s eyes as he experiences each step. The four-part podcast shows us what it takes to go from idea to reality. The pod covers conception, manuscript submission, publishing contract, revision, book cover art and font, and the book’s printing (Austin actually travels to the press in Virginia to watch his book being printed and bound). It’s a behind-the-scenes look that even published writers rarely get to see.

Click here to listen to LAUNCH. And happy book release day to fellow Macmillan author John Austin and ARLO FINCH IN THE VALLEY OF FIRE!  

About the Author (from Macmillan website)

Born and raised in Boulder, Colorado, John August earned a degree in journalism from Drake University and an MFA in film from USC. As a screenwriter, his credits include Big Fish, Charlie’s Angels, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Corpse Bride and Frankenweenie. His books include Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire.In addition to his film career, he hosts a popular weekly podcast, Scriptnotes, with Craig Mazin. He also created the Writer Emergency Pack, an educational storytelling tool that was distributed to over 2,000 classrooms in partnership with non-profit literacy groups like 826LA and NaNoWriMo. John and his family live in Los Angeles.  

John Austin

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Hi everyone, just a wee note to say I’ve decided to leave  the Twitterverse.  We’ll meet again, Twitter, don’t know how, don’t know when, but I know we’ll meet again some sunny day.

But you, dear readers, can still find me on my Instagram account, which is filled with absurd pictures of my goats, cats, dogs, and other happenings on my farm.  I’m also up on my Facebook page, although I post sporadically there.  However, I do answer every email, so please drop me a note through Let’s chat!

Also, on the news front, I’m finishing first draft edits on GIRLS ON THE VERGE, publication of which has been pushed to spring of 2019.  And I’ve hung out my shingle and will be giving manuscript critiques,mentoring, and query assistance, information of which you can find here:  Manuscript Critiques. 

Happy fall!  Enjoy all the pumpkin-flavored goodness the world has to offer.



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Tomato Soup with Orange, adapted from The Dairy Hollow House Soup & Bread: A Country Inn Cookbook by Crescent Dragonwagon (yes, that is her name).

I had so much fun giving a talk on heritage vegetables at the Swedish American Museum in Andersonville, Chicago.  I love talking about veg about as much as I love talking about writing YA novels.  Here is one of the recipes I mentioned. I’ll post a few more in the coming days; keep checking back!

I love cookbooks, I must admit. But I often buy them and then forget I have them. Ms. Dragonwagon’s book is memorable and high on my list of cookbooks to be cherished. I’ve had this book for years, and like all wonderful cookbooks my favorite recipes are splattered with ingredients from by-gone soups. Cooks often have signature dishes, the ones that everyone requests year after year, and the following recipe for tomato soup with orange is one of mine. I plant around 30 tomato plants each year and most are made into soups and sauces and frozen. This soup is perfect for freezing—I recommend those quart size plastic “Ball jars.” One of these will give you a main course for two people. Serve your lovely soup with a grill-cheese sandwich made from crusty sourdough bread and cheddar cheese and you will be in foodie heaven. This soup makes a wonderful gift. I package mine (frozen or fresh) with a little box of cream and a loaf of homemade sourdough bread or gourmet crackers.

You can double, triple, quadruple this recipe—it all depends on how big your soup pot is, really. I have a huge restaurant sized pot with a heavy bottom. It’s the best pan I own and I’ve dragged it all over the world to every place I’ve lived.

3 tablespoons butter

1 large onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, peeled and squished through your garlic press

1 ½ teaspoons dried basil (I’ve used herbs de Provence too)

2 tablespoons honey

3 to 4 whole cloves (count these carefully because you will be fishing them out later. I use a slotted spoon.)

4 pounds of ripe tomatoes pureed (To make the puree, cut tomatoes and toss them in a roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil, toss in some sea salt and a small handful of sugar. If liked, throw some fresh herbs over the top—thyme and basil are nice. Cover with foil, roast until soft, remove foil and allow the toms to caramelize a bit. When cool, run through a food press.)

Grated zest and juice of one orange

Salt and pepper to taste

½ cup of whipping cream

Melt the butter then sauté the onion until soft. Lower heat and add garlic, basil, honey, cloves. Cook for two minutes, add your tomato puree and simmer for another few minutes. Add the orange zest and simmer for around 20 minutes. Turn off heat and allow the soup to cool a bit. Pick out the cloves with a slotted spoon making sure to remove all of them. Add the orange juice. Use an immersion blender until the soup is smooth (you can also use a blender but be very careful. Hot soup can shoot out the top of the blender and paint your kitchen a lovely shade of red.) Season with salt and pepper and taste. Adjust the taste with honey if needed. At this point you can freeze the soup or add the cream and serve.


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