…except I think I’ll aim to read fewer books in 2018 – and instead write more books.
…except I think I’ll aim to read fewer books in 2018 – and instead write more books.
My third YA was published a few days ago!
Read more about MICK & MICHELLE here.
Welcome to the Fall 2017 YA Scavenger Hunt!
There are 7 puzzle contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all. This hunt is open internationally!
The contest is live on Tuesday, Oct 3rd at 12 pm Pacific Time. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by October 8th, at 12 pm Pacific Time. Read the exclusive content offered by all the contestants, add up the clues, and enter for our grand prize: one lucky winner will receive one book from each author on my team! I am part of the BLUE TEAM.
SCAVENGER HUNT GUEST
I am excited to host award-winning author PATTY BLOUNT for this YA Scavenger Hunt!
Patty writes smart and strong characters who are willing to fight for what’s right, and she supports women’s rights by giving a voice to characters facing realistic situations like rape (SOME BOYS, 2014), bullying (SEND, 2012), and grief (NOTHING LEFT TO BURN, 2015).
Her most recent novel is THE WAY IT HURTS (2017):
Music is Elijah’s life. His band plays loud and hard, and he’ll do anything to get them a big break. He needs that success to help take care of his sister, who has special needs. So he’d rather be practicing when his friends drag him to a musical in the next town…until the lead starts to sing.
Kristen dreams of a career on stage like her grandmother’s. She knows she needs an edge to get into a competitive theater program — and being the star in her high school musical isn’t going to cut it. The applause and the attention only encourage her to work harder.
Elijah can’t take his eyes off of Kristen. He captures her in costume and posts the image and a provocative comment online. It goes viral, casting them both in a new spotlight as the online backlash spins out of control. And the consequences are bigger than they could ever have imagined when the threats don’t stay online…they follow them into real life.
EXCLUSIVE #YASH CONTENT FROM PATTY:
A deleted scene from THE WAY IT HURTS!
I stood in the Hamilton’s garage, wondering how the hell I let Elijah talk me into this. The door was wide open and the April air was still cold enough to reveal my breath.
“It’s a lot like vibrato and I know you can do that.”
“The stupid tweet you posted been liked over five thousand times now so I will not do a metal scream now if Columbia Records offered me a recording contract that was contingent on it.”
“You will, Broadway. You will.” He slung his guitar around, started picking at the strings. As furious as I was at him, I couldn’t deny the boy had skills.
“Moving on. You wanted me back and here I am. Are we gonna actually get some work done?”
“Yeah. I figured we could start on your original piece. Any ideas what you want to do?”
I did. “I want to blend our genres.”
His eyes went wide and he leaned over the guitar, tilted his head. “Interesting. Tell me more.”
“I want the rock vibe, but I also want something that’s mine, something I can totally own, the way you do when you sing your original songs.”
Elijah nodded and plucked a few strings, a tiny frown puckering his forehead. His long dark hair was tied back today and I would not — even if threatened with death — ever tell him how hot it looked. “So something that showcases your key but also explores your range. Okay. You want to hear a suggestion?”
Not really. But if I said no, he’d just mock me for being elitist or whatever. “Sure.”
“You have an incredibly expressive face. It’s part of what makes you such a great actor. Incorporate it.”
I liked that idea. “How?”
“Figure out the story you want this song to tell and then find the emotions to convey it.”
Story. Yikes. Didn’t we just plop some words that rhymed onto paper? “Why don’t —” Abruptly, I clamped my lips together. I would not give him one more reason to call me names or post crap on The Beat about how little I knew.
“Go ahead. Ask.” He waved a hand.
Nope. Not going there. “Um, so what kind of guitar is this? It’s nice.” I ran a finger along its curves and Elijah cleared his throat.
“It’s a Stratocoustic. I’ve had this for years. Saved up for ages to buy her.”
“I like how you can play it on or off.” I waved a hand toward his amplifier and he laughed.
“You mean unplugged.”
“That’s what I said.”
He only laughed some more and I suddenly wanted to hit FretGuy99 over the head with his Strato-whatever it was.
“Come on. Let’s strum.” He pulled over one of the stools and handed me the guitar. I held it awkwardly over my legs, hand wrapped around the neck.
“Me? I told you I don’t play any instruments.”
“Yeah, I know. Come on, we’ve got some time before Nick and Sam get here.”
“So you talked Sam into coming back?”
Elijah moved behind me, slid the guitar higher up my legs until it was snug against my body. He covered my left hand with his, moving my hand into position. “Sam’s a pro. Just like you. He’ll put the music first. Now, the first thing to know is every instrument has a proper posture. That’s lesson one.”
“Voice has proper posture, too.”
“Yeah? Cool.” He turned and his breath ruffled my hair. He smelled like leather. “Your left hand plays frets. Your right hand strums or picks.” He handed me a plastic pick. “These spaces along the neck are the frets. This is first fret.” He curled my fingers over the neck of the guitar and I suddenly forgot how to breathe. “Use the pick and just pluck at the sixth string. That’s the thick one on top.”
“The thick— um. Okay.” I picked the string and it reverberated across the garage.
“Good. Do it again. Up and down. Use your wrist, not your whole arm.”
I did, liking the sound I made. “Okay. What about the frets?”
“Don’t rush me, I’m getting to them. Okay, these are one, two, three and four.” He counted the fingers on my left hand, starting with the index finger.
“What about the thumb?”
“That’s just labeled T in music.”
“Okay. T, one, two, three, and four.” I wiggled each finger in turn.
“Pick the sixth string again and use your fret hand to hold down the string over each fret, like this.” He covered my hand with his again and pressed each finger onto a different fret. I did what he said and recognized the sound.
“That’s an E.” I said, repeating the exercise. Each fret went down a half-step. E, F, F-sharp, G, G-sharp…Okay. “Cool.”
“Let’s try a chord next.” Behind me, I felt Elijah lean closer and move my right hand into position. “Each chord has specific finger positions. You’re gonna use fingers one, two, and three to cover the first, second, and third strings, but not all on the same fret.”
“That’s good because I don’t think they’d fit.”
He laughed low and soft. “Oh, you’d be surprised,” he murmured and placed my fingers on the neck of the guitar. I swallowed hard because I got the distinct impression he wasn’t talking about guitars anymore. I remembered what my brother said about Elijah being a player. He’d probably slept with dozens of girls. Had he shown them how to play his favorite guitar?
“Okay, this time, you’re going to strum these four strings.”
“Four? But I have only three fingers down.”
“Yep. You’re strumming one string open. That means no fret fingers.”
“Okay.” I drew the pick over the strings he indicated. When the sound played out, I looked over my shoulder with a grin. “That’s a D-major.”
“Good ear.” Elijah smiled back. “You just played your first chord.”
It was just Elijah and me and the lingering note. He was behind me, all but wrapped around me, the heat of his body warming mine through my jeans and sweatshirt and boots. I knew that if I just tilted my head a little bit more, we’d be kissing. I could tell he was thinking the same thing because I could feel the tension in his arms — bared from where he’d shoved the sleeves of his sweatshirt up, revealing the leather cuff he wore on one wrist.
A car door slammed. Elijah was suddenly three feet away from me, taking that heat with him.
“I brought breakfast!” Sam called from the driveway, holding up a paper bag. The scent of hot bagels wafted out and my stomach grumbled. He flicked a glance my way but said nothing, so I didn’t say anything to him.
“Hey, Kris,” Nick waved.
“Hamilton’s got you strumming already, huh?” He shot Elijah a wicked grin. “Let me guess. He showed you the G-string first, right? He loves to show that one just so he can keep saying G-string.”
I hid my smile when Elijah tossed a wadded up napkin at Nick’s head.
Sam still hadn’t said anything. He picked up a sheet of paper on the work table, frowning as he scanned it. “Eli, what the hell, dude? This whole set is like a massive Z-fest.”
Z-fest? I was about to ask what that meant when Nick leaned over and explained. “Z’s. Like snores. Sam thinks the set list is boring.”
“Okay, we’ll mix it up if you want. But I want to try some classics.” Elijah took the list from Sam.
Elijah set up the camera while Sam got out his guitar, adjusted some knobs at the top of the neck.
I grabbed one of the sheets, saw the first song was Bring Me to Life. I’d heard of Evanescence but they couldn’t be considered hard rock because they didn’t sound all that hard to me. Abruptly, I went still. Oh, God. Elijah was right. I am elitist.
“Ready?” Nick called out, jerking me from my moment of self-discovery.
I looked around and found him already behind his drums. Elijah had his guitar over his shoulder but was adjusting settings on a portable keyboard he’d pulled out of the corner. I moved to center stage, ignoring Sam’s narrowed Blue Steel glare aiming daggers at me. Finally, he took his bass and joined us. Elijah counted off and led in with a soft piano riff. I took a deep breath, let it fill my belly, and delivered the song’s first verse. I didn’t know all the words, but the print-outs Elijah made for us helped.
We played the whole song all the way through and it was amazing.
At least I thought so. But Sam’s sour expression didn’t sweeten at all.
“Okay,” Elijah indicated the print-out. “Next up is Smile For Me.”
Elijah went back to his guitar. This time, Nick counted us off with his drumsticks. I didn’t have lyrics for this song and I wondered if that was exactly why Elijah chose it. When the guitars hummed and Elijah sang the first verse, I head-bopped right beside him, providing background vocals. When I was sure of the lyrics and the story the song told, only then did I lift my own voice.
By that time, we’d collected a bit of an audience outside Elijah’s garage. Some kids on bicycles had stopped at the curb, even a few people pushing baby carriages and walking dogs stopped so I played up for them. The song was apparently about a couple who’d broken up but had not moved on.
Not a day goes by I don’t regret
All that went wrong wish I could correct
It’s not so bad when I’m busy
Seeing you still makes me dizzy
And then you smile for me
What does it mean?
What are you sayin’?
Need to know how you feel
Wanna know if you’re achin’
Had Elijah written this song, too? I bet he had. He was a genius at story-telling. I added my own take on the story, that the girl isn’t over the guy, but will never let him know that.
You think it’s for you
The smile on my face
I gave you my heart
You drove in a stake
And then I see you again
The pain’s fading
Don’t worry about me
I’m still smilin’
Elijah played up the I still love you act, even went so far as to brush hair off my face while he sang to me. Elijah was good. He was damn good. So I raised my game. I sang my part in between his and turned my back on him when I delivered the For me lines, schooling the expression on my face into fierce determination.
When the song ended, our tiny audience applauded.
“Thank you!” Elijah acknowledged them. “What do y’all want to hear next?”
One of the kids on bikes asked for Stairway to Heaven but all three guys groaned. Another asked for Nickelback and Sam just turned to the moms with babies and smiled. “How about a power ballad? Want to hear something sexy and heart-breaking?” He turned back to Nick and Elijah and murmured, “Every Rose.”
It took a few bars, but I’d definitely heard Every Rose Has Its Thorn and could totally sing it. But I held back and let the guys have this moment, adding in some background Ah’s. Elijah ended up singing to me and our tiny crowd loved it. A few spectators moved on and I took it personally. Were we not good enough to make them forget about their Saturday errands and chores? I could sing whatever they wanted to hear, unless it was screaming hard rock.
“Kristen. It’s okay. Not everybody gets us. Doesn’t mean you sucked or anything.” I looked up into Elijah’s intense dark eyes and bit my lip. I didn’t know what this bothered me so much. It’s not like this was a real show.
“Great sound, you guys!” One woman gave us a thumbs-up.
“Thanks!” Elijah shouted.
“We’re Ride Out. Look for us online!” Sam called after her.
Elijah opened a dinged-up refrigerator and tossed bottles of water at the guys. He handed me mine politely. “You were amazing. Again.”
I slid a look toward Elijah. “Well, that’s why I’m here. Was Smile For Me another of your original pieces?”
“Um. Yeah. Nick wrote the music but the lyrics are mine.”
I looked at Nick. “Seriously? Dude, that was great.” Maybe Nick could help me compose my original song. And that would really twist Leah into a knot.
“Thanks,” Nick smiled once and then pulled his phone out. He read his messages and suddenly, his smile turned wicked. Oh, God! He was probably sexting with Leah.
“I have to write an original piece for my college applications. Would you be willing to work with me?”
“Oh. Um, sure. I guess. What schools you applying to?”
“Besides Julliard, I’m thinking of Berklee and a few other conservatories.”
He nodded and smiled. “That’s cool.”
“How about you? Where are you applying?”
Nick just shrugged. “Where ever Leah’s going, I’ll apply to a state school nearby.”
Oh my God, this boy had it bad. That was the sweetest and yet, the dumbest thing I’d ever heard. “You’ll seriously follow her where she goes? Does she um… know?”
A pink blush spread over Nick’s cheeks. “Uh, no, not exactly. We haven’t talked about it or anything. It’s just…well, she’s it for me.”
It. Holy crap. I wasn’t that sure about my favorite boots and Nick was making life plans? It was weird and adorable and scary and it made my heart ache all the same time. Would I ever find a guy who looked at me the way Nick was looking at the latest message from Leah?
My gaze settled on Elijah, who was bent over his tablet again. For about five minutes, I’d thought he could be the one. My one. But he’d made it crystal clear it was all about the music for him. Sure, he’d flirt with me, tease me. But that’s all it would ever be with him.
And as much as I adored my Etta, I had no plans to collect husbands like she had. I would not be part of Elijah Hamilton’s Bad Boy Groupie Fan Club.
“Hey, guys?” Elijah waved us over to his tablet, currently showing his email. “Check it out. Three new gigs!”
“Three? Are you serious?” Nick grabbed the tablet and then looked up with a grin. “Holy shit.”
I looked over Nick’s shoulder. There was an offer from a mall, a car dealership, and a restaurant. Without asking, without discussing it, Elijah sent replies to all three that said “Yes. Ride Out featuring Kristen Cartwright would be happy to play.”
It was official.
I was in the band.
Purchase her books:
Don’t forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of books! To enter, you need to know that my favorite number is 13. Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the BLUE TEAM and you’ll have the secret code to enter for the grand prize!
Before you leave, don’t forget to enter MY GIVEAWAY (Rafflecopter opens in new window) where you can win ebooks, signed paperbacks of my YA novels, and a copy of Patty’s novel!
Fjord Blue won a silver medal at the Florida Authors and Publishers Association’s Book Awards in August!
I just received the medal and some stickers in the mail. Unfortunately, my house is undergoing renovations, so all my books are stored in boxes and I have no idea where my copies of Fjord Blue went.
Here’s a picture of the prize, at least: