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!
By participating in 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!
This is my third time participating in the hunt (one for each book--this time around I'm promoting The Entropy of Everything (the Indestructibles Book 3) and somewhere out there you'll find exclusive content, a preview of the yet untitled Book 4 in the series (the Indestructibles first cosmic adventure!). But to find that hidden content, you'll have to keep looking. This is a scavenger hunt after all!
I'm on TEAM BLUE this year with a lot of other fantastic authors you might want to check out.
So first up: you might want to know the rules, right? Because who doesn't want to enter to win free books by tons of amazing authors? Here you go:
Entry Form: Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on Team Blue, and then add them up. 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, October 4TH, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.
On this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each participating YA author, you also get a secret number. Add up the numbers, and enter it for a chance to win a major prize–one lucky winner will receive at least one signed book from each author on my team in the hunt! But play fast. This contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online until noon PST on Sunday, October 5th! There are EIGHT contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the BLUE TEAM, but there is also a RED, GOLD, ORANGE, PINK, PURPLE, TEAL, and GREEN team (which is one more than my SECRET NUMBER, 7... you may want to write that down)! Check out each team for a chance to win eight different sets 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.
Okay, we've got the basics out of the way. Now the fun stuff. During this scavenger hunt I'm hosting the exclusive content offered by one of my Blue Team colleagues: Joshua David Bellin.
A bit more about him:
Joshua David Bellin has been writing novels since the age of eight (though the first few were admittedly very short). He lives in Pittsburgh with his wife, two children, a cat, a carnivorous fish, and a lizard. SURVIVAL COLONY 9 is his debut novel. The sequel, SCAVENGER OF SOULS, comes out in summer 2016.
You can learn more about Joshua at his site here as well as on his blog here. Hint: If you're participating in the scavenger hunt, and if you've read this far I'm sure you have, you definitely want to swing by his blog. Just sayin'.
Joshua is highlighting this scavenger hunt is: SURVIVAL COLONY 9:
In a futuristic landscape of dust and ruin, fourteen-year-old Querry Genn searches for the lost memory that might save the human race. Querry is a member of Survival Colony 9, one of the small, roving bands of people who remain after devastating wars destroyed the planet. And now the Skaldi have come to scavenge the few who are left. Monsters with the ability to consume and mimic human hosts, the Skaldi have targeted Querry and his colony. If he can recall his forgotten past, he might hold the key to defeating the Skaldi. If he can't, he's their next victim.
Sounds fantastic, right? So how would you like some exclusive free content from Joshua? Check out below for a short story he's provided exclusively for the scavenger hunt!
A Chimaera Story with Four Morals
Author’s note: I wrote this science fiction short story in summer 2011, just before I started writing SURVIVAL COLONY 9. It tells the tale of a boy and his father in a war-torn, post-apocalyptic world. It’s not directly related to SURVIVAL COLONY 9: the characters and world are different, the boy is much younger than the narrator of my novel, there’s no colony, no Skaldi. Still, I think the tale that would blossom in SURVIVAL COLONY 9 must have been germinating when I wrote this. It’s not a prequel, but perhaps it’s a premonition.
© 2011 Joshua David Bellin
Kevin kept his Chimaera in the backyard, staked to the turf to prevent it from singeing the picket fence. Each of its triune parts screamed danger: its frontal lion’s head a fusion of fangs and fire, its midsection all crimped goathorns and spiked eyeflanges, its whiplash snaketail streaming venom like confetti. You had to wear protective gear to approach it. When they’d bought it from the GenetiPet store three years ago on Kevin’s eighth birthday, it was little more than a cub, tiny fleshbumps on rump and thorax the only intimation of the horrors to come. A new iteration of the recombinant critter GenetiPet had cooked up years before, the Chimaera 5000 had turned out far more lethal than anyone dared imagine, more lethal, even, than the discontinued Manticores that had stung their owners with scorpion tails and munched their legs with rancid cherub faces. As then, there were exposés, lawsuits, recalls. But Kevin begged his father to let him keep his pet, and in the end, being an indulgent parent, the man gave in.
For really, Kevin’s Chimaera was a gentle beast, prone to pawing for shanks of horseflesh, pleased to let its owner, clad in his flame-retardant jumpsuit and balanced atop a stepladder, scratch behind its mane and fondle its horns. On the rare occasion Kevin was allowed to take it, muzzled and hooded and tail-tied, on excursions to the park, other children migrated over, their own Rocs and Griffins and Kelpies forgotten as they stroked the monster’s fur where silky leonine gold met bristly caprine gray. It made a deep noise in its twin throats like a steam shovel, its amber forward eyes squeezed shut. Kevin wished then he could reach up and give its neck a hug to show it was specially his very own, but it was fully six feet at the shoulder and so the best he could do was tickle its belly and watch it squirm with pleasure.
Then the war came. Rockets sizzled through the sky, boomed underfoot. Kevin’s Chimaera jogged and howled through the night, covering its lion eyes with its front paws in a gesture almost human. Kevin’s mother was killed when the hospital was hit by a Think Bomb and disintegrated. Soon the street was a vacant lot of rubble and ash. Kevin and his father set out for the west, where, rumor had it, oases remained. Before they left, an argument ensued.
“We can’t take that thing with us,” Kevin’s father insisted. “We’ve got nothing to feed it, nowhere to keep it. It’ll make us a target to anyone who’s watching.”
“Please, Dad!” Kevin begged. “I’ll take care of Benjy, I promise! He’ll eat anything, birds, snails, frogs! He won’t be any trouble at all!”
“Son,” the man said sadly, “I’m not sure there are any birds, snails, or frogs left.”
“But he’ll die!” Kevin whined. “If we leave him alone he’ll die!”
“Son,” the father tried again, but then another thought struck him. “All right,” he said. “Maybe he’ll even turn out to be useful.”
“He will, Daddy, he will!” Kevin beamed. Turning to caress his pet’s throat, he didn’t see his father’s look, didn’t dream what use his father had in mind.
They started west, traveling by night. Their meager store they carried in a sort of hammock they’d made of a laundry bag and slung over the creature’s back. During the day they slept beneath bridges, then in woodlots, then in barns, the Chimaera muzzled and hooded, leashed and tail-tied, heaped with branches or straw. Though there was in truth little for it to eat, a bird here, a snake there, it didn’t complain, even when the rumbling of its vast empty stomach kept the man up with memories of how his lost wife used to snore.
Each night they crept steadily in the direction they saw the sun set. But there was nothing there, only scorched fields and burned-out shells of buildings and the constant whine of missiles overhead and concussions in the gut of the earth. As the days passed and their food dwindled, the father began to eye the Chimaera greedily (as, he thought, it did him). By now the beast’s ribs showed like barrel staves and its straggly mane drooped to the ground as it panted along beside them. In a week at best, he judged, it would be gone—gone, or well-fed with its human consorts. The deed would have to be done soon.
He fashioned a skewer from a walking stick. He scouted the beast’s flanks for the most vulnerable spot. He wished there were a way to anesthetize it, both to ease its passing and to ensure that once struck it would not return the blow. Watching it, though, it occurred to him that physical weakness coupled with doltish devotion would probably take care of that. The real issue was what to tell Kevin, whether to tell Kevin.
In the end he decided to come clean—sort of. “Benjy is dying, Kevin,” he announced one gray dawn, the Chimaera lying beside their campfire drawing shallow, labored breaths. “He won’t last much longer. It’s not right for him to suffer so.”
Kevin looked at his father in the firelight, his young face registering grief at the assertion but no awareness of the implication.
“Back home,” his father continued, “we’d have called it ‘putting him to sleep.’ It means when an animal gets too old or too tired or too sick to care for, we help him.”
“Help him?” Kevin’s eyes were wide.
“Help him to die.”
All at once, as is the way with children, Kevin connected the sharpened stake and the Chimaera’s shrunken sides and his father’s grimace, and he flung himself on his pet, hugging its sallow hide, burying his face in its belly. He would not be moved, and the man let him cry. It was harder, he thought, for a child on the verge of manhood than for a child still a perfect child. The boy could no longer harbor any illusions.
That day, once Kevin had cried himself to sleep, the man finished the job. The animal never protested, never flinched. Whether too exhausted or too faithful to retaliate, it lay on its side, one front paw held feebly in the air, while he drove the stake home.
Children learn about the real world through fantasy, the man reminded himself as he twisted his weapon deep into the creature’s paunch. And therein, perhaps, lay the problem. For a child’s sake a man may keep up the chimera of hope. There comes a time, however, when boy turns man, and must face the truth.
So did Joshua's short story and book catch your eye? Check out his website for information on where to find his work.
Want a chance to win copies of books by Joshua, myself, and many more? Keep pursuing the scavenger hunt and gathering up those secret numbers (in case you missed it above, my number is 7). How do you keep going, you might ask? Well you'll want to follow the trail of the scavenger hunt to the next author on the hunt, Leah Bobet, author of the (amazingly titled) AN INHERITANCE OF ASHES. Her blog can be found here!
A special note for INDESTRUCTIBLES readers--I'm officially giving away a copy of Book 1 in the series as part of this contest, but if end up winning and you're a reader of the series and already have a copy of Book 1 in your possession contact me through the CONTACT page above or online (firstname.lastname@example.org or @mattphillion on Twitter, or even on Facebook (facebook.com/whoisindestructible) and let me know ahead of time, and I'll happily swap out Book 1 for Book 2 (Breakout) or the newly released Book 3 (The Entropy of Everything). Just be sure to reach out as soon as you know.
Are you participating? Leave a comment below and tell us how you heard about it! Which authors are you most looking forward to reading? Have you found someone through past scavenger hunts you really enjoyed?
The Indestructibles Book 4 is a space/cosmic adventure centering around an alien invasion, so I've got astronomy on the mind all. The. Time. Right now. Which is pretty cool considering the Super Blood Moon and lunar eclipse last night (which I watched while working on a scene literally taking place on the Moon... I didn't plan it, I swear). And today NASA announced they've found evidence of liquid water on Mars. Such a great time to be looking up into space.
But because we're talking Mars today, I have been, of course, making a LOT of Martian Manhunter jokes. I love J'onn J'onzz. Martian Manhunter is my jam. And so I want to, just for kicks, link to my old blog post where I proposed making Martian Manhunter a TV show, essentially as a reverse Orphan Black--J'onn comes to Earth and learns to be human by being different people every episode, male, female, different races, different life experiences, so he can get a real feel for what it means to be human, and he first-hand sees how ugly and beautiful humanity can be.
It was the first in my "why they'll never let me write..." blog posts (I've done Aquaman and Fantastic Four posts as well). I've got this proposal for Poison Ivy and Teen Titan series I want to write up at some point as well... Maybe when I need a day off from Book 4. Which is about halfway done, guys. If I can keep myself on track, we're looking at a release not long after the holidays, maybe early February.
Anyone do anything fun for National Batman Day? I'm still trying to figure out why yesterday was Batman Day (marketing, I suppose, but hey, any excuse to geek out, right?) but I made do with what I had available:
Breaking Bat, anyone? (Yeah, I gotta get rid of the beard.)
All I have to say is, Batman must get WICKED headaches wearing that mask around all the time. No wonder he's so grumpy.
I should have done this a long time ago, but I've just added a few sample chapter from Book 1 here on the website (which can be found right here or on the tab at the top of the page). If you know someone who is looking for a new superhero novel series to check out, these chapters are free to read and are spoiler-free--they're meant to introduce the heroes without giving away any big plot points that might make reading the series less fun.
In book news not related to the Indestructibles, I just found the coolest little bit of news. A colleague and friend, Dave Seeley--whose Shadows of Mindor Luke Skywalker/Star Wars book cover is actually really iconic--has had a book of his incredible sci-fi and fantasy artwork published this week.
Dave's an amazing talent and a true gentleman, so I'd want to mention his book no matter what, but it turns out, I'm in it!
Sometimes, when I'm not working on the Indestructibles, I do a bit of acting and modeling. (Yeah, if you've met me at any of the comic cons, you probably find the modeling thing as funny as I do.) And Dave has used me for a few cool projects over the years--in fact, my face appeared on the cover of a book before my name ever appeared as an author (the book in question is Frank Chadwick's How Dark the World Becomes). My face has also showed up in space marine armor and in a Coors Light add, too, and apparently my appearance as a very happy Frankenstein's Monster has made it into this new book.
I'm pretty amused by this, but also, very happy for my colleague. If you're a collector of sci-fi art, definitely check it out.
I've been joking around about wanting to see what the Indestructibles cast looked like as anime or manga characters, and using this generator, someone gave it a shot... certainly not the definitive looks for each (Doc looks about 15 years old) but definitely fun. If you make an Indestructibles anime character with that generator, send it in and I'll post it here and to the Facebook page!
A while back I wrote a piece for Home for Wayward Geeks entitled, "If You Want a Harry Potter Engagement Ring, You Should Have a Harry Potter Engagement Ring," after a particularly click-baity article told people if they wanted a Harry Potter ring perhaps they weren't mature enough to get married (and I kind of got mad about that). The idea came up in conversation earlier today, and so I figured it might be fun to share it again it for kicks since I've been meaning to repost it here to the blog for months now.
Also I mean--have you seen these rings? Geek-tastic AND beautiful. Seriously.
Repost: If You Want a Harry Potter Engagement Ring, You Should Have a Harry Potter Engagement Ring
n the age of clickbait, antagonism is king, and a writer over on Gawker smartly went after a large group of online readers this week with her piece entitled, If you buy a Harry Potter Engagement Ring, You Should Not Get Married. Her argument, should you want to avoid giving Gawker the benefit of your page clicks, is that to purchase or accept a Harry Potter engagement ring is indicative that you have "made a series of incorrect choices," and makes some mildly snarky comments about the books not being age appropriate for adults, which is effective considering how often telling adults not to read YA novels has resulted in great clickity clicking on the internet the past year or two.
But if you're going to get married, it is good piece of advice, you'd think, to know and understand the person whom you are proposing to or whose proposal you are accepting. And knowing them means a lot of things, but first and foremost you'd hope you understand that person's passions. Whether it's rock climbing or Harry Potter or fostering rescue dogs or collecting Hummels, when you marry someone, you are marrying their passions.
Therefore, would it not make sense that If you are the type of person who would squee with joy over a snitch engagement ring, you deserve to find someone who would go looking for one for you? If you want a diamond, find someone who will buy you a diamond. If you don't believe in engagement rings, don't find someone who will insist on spending three months salary on a ring you don't want. It's about understanding your partner's desires and hopes. It's really not about the ring.
Of course, really, we're told it's supposed to be about the ring, because that's what our marketing overlords have told us we're supposed to do. Diamonds themselves are a scam of such epic proportions Don Draper would get the vapors at how well-crafted the lie is. Rather than obsess over that particular point of fact, I'll point you to the extensive (if profane) Diamonds are Bullshit, by Rohin Dhar, co-founder and CEO of Priceconomics. If you are into diamonds, if you think they're beautiful and you want one, feel free to indulge, but educate yourself about their value and why they are considered "must have" stones for engagement rings.
And that doesn't even get into the initial reason engagement rings exist in the first place (summed up really well in this piece by WHoWhatWear's Meghan Blalock) and how even that original reason doesn't fit with the use of diamonds considering the stone's value drops faster the minute you buy it than a new car's value drops when you drive it off the lot.
So what this boils down to is: throw what you know about engagement rings and their meanings out the window. They're something else now. A promise, a sign of affection, a symbol of love and understanding of your partner. And considering how long you'll hope that ring will be on the appropriate finger, isn't it a good idea to have a strong sense that it will make the wearer--and hopefully, by extension, the purchaser--legitimately happy? And doesn't that really boil down to communication?
If you are the type of person who would want a Harry Potter engagement ring, you shouldn't be with someone you're ashamed to say that to. If you are afraid to communicate to that person, perhaps you should think about the state of your relationship. If you're with someone who thinks buying you a Harry Potter engagement ring is appropriate and you, even as you sit here reading this article wearing your Hufflepuff scarf, think, "okay, that's going too far, even for me," and you haven't discussed how that is not what you desire, reconsider getting married to that person.
We're picking on Harry Potter here, but The Boy Who Lived isn't the only hero who has inspired some intricate rings. There's quite a few Batman-based engagement rings out there, such as this Harley Quinn style ring (and yes, that site is called Geeks Who Wed, by the way), and some pricey Star Wars rings in lightsaber themes have been making the rounds lately as well. Actually, When Geeks Wed did a piece over a year ago with a lot of different rings, from Star Wars and Star Trek to Legend of Zelda and Pokemon. Check them out--they really are beautifully crafted, even if they're not for everyone. Many of these rings are festooned in diamonds, too, by the way, so the crafters and buyers are not cheaping out here. It's a matter of taste.
Full disclosure: I make my living writing about superheroes and I think a geek-themed ring is going too far for me, personally. I won't judge someone for wearing or buying one, never in a million years, but it's not my thing. That being said, f I were with someone for whom an R2-D2 engagement ring was a dream come true, though, I would hope she'd tell me.
And more to the point: an engagement ring, and more importantly, a marriage, should be about personal happiness and making the life choices you need to make to be happy. If you're being swayed in your own happiness and joy by articles on Gawker, perhaps you should not get married until you find yourself a bit more. Go out. See the world. Form your own opinions. Judge yourself, don't be judged by others.
And if you're a traditionalist at heart and want a big honking diamond engagement ring, please read up on the history of diamonds. There is so much beauty in the world, geeky and traditional and everything in between. Consider an alternative, if only because we're all better than that. There's more than one type of beauty in the world, and it is, as the saying goes, in the eye of the beholder.
Matthew Phillion is the writer of "The Indestructibles," part-time actor, occasional filmmaker. Currently on the lam in Salem with his trusty dog, Watson.