Thursday, December 1, 2011

YA Scavenger Hunt!

This year I am pleased as punch to be involved in the YA Scavenger Hunt. This is where a whole bunch of YA authors have ganged up to show off our bonus content, help our fans become acquainted with other fabulous YA authors, give away awesome prizes, and have a whole lot of fun in the process. Each of us will post some exclusive, never-before-seen content from another author (plus a mysterious word in red you'll need to win a big contest at the end) and a link to the next stop in the scavenger hunt.

I am hosting the lovely Amber Argyle, author of Witch Song.

Here's what the book is about:

The world is changing.

Once, Witch Song controlled everything from the winds to the shifting of the seasons, but not anymore. All the Witches are gone, taken captive by a traitor.

All but Brusenna.

Now the traitor is coming for Brusenna, and ever her guardian can't protect her. Somehow, Brusenna has to succeed where every other Witch has failed. Find the traitor. Fight her. Defeat her.

If Brusenna fails, there won't be anything left to save.

Cool, right? I can't wait to read this! That's one of the great things about the YA Scavenger hunt; we get exposed to books and authors we might not have otherwise come across. I love the cover, too, something about the girl's eyes are so eerie and striking. And it's been a good long time since I read a story about witches. . .
Here's some info about the author:

Amber Argyle grew up with three brothers on a cattle ranch in the Rocky Mountains. She spent hours riding horses, roaming the mountains, and playing in her family’s creepy barn. This environment fueled her imagination for writing her debut novel.

She has worked as a short order cook, janitor, and staff member in a mental institution. All of which has given her great insight into the human condition and has made for some unique characters.

She received her bachelor’s degree in English and Physical Education from Utah State University.

She currently resides in Utah with her husband and three small children.

To which I say: !!!!!  Hey, neighbor! She grew up in the Rockies riding horses and roaming the mountains, hmm sounds like my kind of writer. Must be a kindred spirit, is all I'm saying. Now even more excited to read the book.

And now we're on to el bonus contento. Below you'll find the never-before-seen first chapter of Witch Song 2. Make sure to read it all the way through to the end, because there's some stuff at the bottom on how to enter to win (pay attention to the word in red)the huge and super exciting prize package. (I myself contributed some very awesome Team Christian/Team Tucker paraphernalia, among other things.) And, of course, the link for the next stop on the scavenger hunt. Hint: It isn't me. Hee hee. But when you do find me on this hunt, you will find a very cool tidbit of bonus content from Hallowed.
Witch Song 2, Chapter 1

The shadows seemed to bleed darkness. Senna glanced toward the sky, searching for the moon that would not come. Not tonight. Even the strongest starlight was strangled out by the dense canopy. The temporary blindness was frightening, but it was also the reason she’d come. Darkness offered cover and protection—and insured that no one would notice her slipping away.

With each step she took, the roar of the waterfall grew loader. Finally, she reached the stair case carved into the side of the cliff. Mindful of the slippery steps, she climbed upward until her legs burned and she sweated despite the chill.

Finally, she reached the top and crossed the bleak expanse until she could hear the rhythmic crash of the waves against the cliffs. Glancing far down below her, she could see the frothing sea. She faced West, toward Tarten. She closed her eyes and concentrated on the Four Sisters—earth, water, plants, and sunlight. She could feel their pain—like a shriveled sore in her stomach.

Her tears started again, wetting the salty tracks she knew were already on her cheeks.

She couldn’t seem to shake the dreams that woke her every night. Dreams of a withered land and a dying people.

With all the strength she had, she sang.

Let not the curse of Witches
Destroy a land once bathed in riches
Plants, withdraw life to thy roots
Seeds sleep in the earth, send forth no shoots
Until the witches shall disperse
This hated and unjust curse.

She sang until her throat was scratchy and she could no longer hit the high notes. Then she stood staring at the land she knew was there, struggling to hold onto any life at all. Because of the witches’ curse, no rain had fallen in over two months—death to any jungle. But this one held on deep in the ground, waiting for the promise of her song to be fulfilled.

Through the stillness, one stone scratch on another. Senna whirled and looked back the way she’d come, her heart pounding in her throat. If the Discipline Heads discovered that she was subverting their curse, the punishment would be severe.

Senna saw nothing through the gloom. Hugging her arms around herself, she trotted back to the staircase and started the long descent. At the base, she plunged onto the path that wove between the tree houses like a river carrying its load of human cargo from one house to house along its banks. The trees towered above Senna, the tallest over eight stories high, the smallest just over two.

And each of those tree houses had once been inhabited by a Witch. Now they were all empy. Here, everything still bore the signs of the Witches’ final battle with Espen. A door leading into the tree creaked on its rusted hinges; a yawning hole where the latch should have been. Broken windows gaped like mouths with hungry, serrated teeth.

Glass crunched under someone’s feet.

Senna froze, tipping her head toward the sound.

The wind picked up, snaking through the dense foliage before tugging at Senna’s cloak. Ducking her head, she held her hood close. She could smell the freshness of plants and taste the damp loam. There was no indication that anyone had marked her sneaking away. No indication that she’d been followed. Still, she waited, as still as a mouse venturing into the cat’s lair. She’d been uneasy since she’d left her tree house. Some instinct inside her seemed to chant a warning: through the gloom, someone was watching.

“Who’s there?” Her whisper sounded like a shout in the darkness.

No answer. Her heart pounding, Senna hurried back to the warmth and safety of the inhabited part of the island. She wished Joshen were with her. The Discipline Heads had done their best to keep her apart from her Guardian. She hadn’t seen him in two months. Not since the Guardians had gone on a recruitment assignment.

Trying to calm her stuttering heart, she reminded herself she was safe on Haven. The witches’ headquarters was an impenetrable fortress—surrounded on all sides by cliffs that were in turn surrounded by the frigid ocean. The only way in or out of was for a witch to sing you in.

Still, the island had been breached before. When the Dark Witch had captured or killed all the remaining witches. All but Senna.

The thick vegetation to Senna’s left shifted against the breeze.

Someone was there.

Backing away, Senna’s hand went to her seed belt. Her practiced fingers automatically found the pouch of Thine seeds She heard a whooshing sound. Before she could understand what it was, something solid smacked into her temple.

Lights exploded behind her eyes. She staggered sideways. The thick foliage on left of the path shuddered. A black shape hurled out of the darkness toward her.

Senna didn’t have time for the Thine. Her mouth opened and a song poured out,

Plants, stop the man who’d halt my flight.
Bind him, though he fights.

All around the man, the dark forms of plants shot out, tripping his feet. He reached out, snatching her leg. She stumbled and fell, still singing. She felt the plants respond, twisting around him and pinning his arms down. She kicked free of him and scooted backward. She nearly sagged in relief. One more song, and he’d be wrapped up completely.

Something snapped behind her. Senna lurched to her feet. Someone barreled into her, wrapping their arms around her. Senna slammed into the dirt. She felt grit digging into her cheek.

Plants , stop—

The person behind reared back and jerked a gag into her mouth.

Knowing how helpless she was without her song, Senna drove her elbow back, catching the wiry attacker in the gut. The gag came free, but Senna couldn’t get the breath to sing. She twisted in his arms. All Senna saw was a face wrapped in black, dark eyes glinting. She punched as Joshen had shown her, putting all her strength into it. An explosion of pain erupted in Senna’s hand.

Her attacker tottered. Senna shoved him with all her strength. The attacker tried to hold on, but he wasn’t much bigger than Senna. Kicking her way free, she started running. She panted out a song.

Plants of the forest, hide my trail,
for an enemy, I must quell.

She was too winded for the song to be very effective, but it was the best she could manage. She chanced a glance behind her. In the darkness, she could make out the forms of her attackers chasing after her. And they were fast.

Even with her song weaving the plants behind her, Senna wasn’t going to outrun them. That meant she had to hide. She darted into the dense foliage. Plants whipped her face, making her eyes sting. She passed the tree and erupted onto another path. She followed it for half a dozen steps before darting back into the plants and flattened herself, her face pressed into the damp soil.

Footsteps pounded past her. They paused uncertainly, but they were good at this game. Without a word, they split up—Senna heard them searching for her.

Sweat soaking through the back of her green dress, Senna tried to slow her breathing. She searched for some kind of weapon, anything. A piece of shattered glass glinted in the starlight.

Keeping her movements smooth and even, Senna wrapped the edge of her cloak around her hand and picked it up. She chanced lifting her head. She listened for any sign of them, sweat rolling down her temples, before she scooted backward. When she bumped into the tree house behind her, she eased to her feet and edged around to the other side.

Her heart pounding in her throat, she waited. Nothing. She moved away from the tree, toward home, her senses straining for any sign that she’d been spotted.

Some instinct made her turn to look behind her. But it was too late. She already felt the gag biting into her mouth. Felt the knot go tight.

But her attacker had underestimated the rest of Senna. She whirled and struck with the glass shard. Above the wrapping over his face, her attacker’s eyes went wide with shock. A gush of warm blood soaked Senna’s hand.

She stumbled back in horror.

The attacker fell to his knees, his large hand on his stomach. Senna retreated, fear clawing her insides.

He watched her, his eyes unreadable. “You’re not safe, Brusenna. You won’t be safe as long as you’re here. Soon, all the witches will be dead.” His accent was harsh.

Who was this man? Why had he attacked her? Senna studied his shadowed face, trying to place him. She stretched a hand out to pull away the cloth covering his nose and mouth. Somewhere behind the man, the plants rustled as if someone were running through them.

The other attacker.

Snatching her hand back, Senna turned and fled, not daring to look back. Three times she fell, once so hard she feared she’d broken her wrist. She yanked on the gag, her lips cracking, and finally managed to pull it off.

Ahead, the warm lights of Haven came to view. She caught glimpses of lanterns gleaming inside the trees like distant stars. Had she really gone so far? When she finally reached her tree house, her breathing came in ragged gasps. She ran up the steps made of the tree roots and hauled open the door.

Her mother shot to her feet, her knitting falling to the floor. “Brusenna?

Senna snatched her mother’s hand. “We’re not safe!”

Where there more attackers? Was anyone safe? Senna didn’t stop until she reached the Ring of Power—a circular clearing ringed by tall trees. She darted to the center.

"What happened? Why are you covered in blood? What happened to your face?

Senna ignored her. She had to warn the others. She tipped her head back and sang.

Wind, carry my song across Haven
An enemy with purpose craven,
Has breached our border.
Wrecking havoc and disorder.

The wind whipped around her song, carrying its message all over the island. Senna heard it reverberating off the impassable cliffs. Within moments, Witches were pouring into the Ring of Power, some wearing little more than their shifts.

Prenny, her grey hair sticking up like a rooster tail, marched straight up to Senna. “What’s the meaning of this, Sprout?”

Senna held up her hand to shield her eyes from the bright lantern Prenny held. “Two men attacked me.”

Prenny’s face went pale.

Her mother snatched both of Senna’s hands and turned them over.

Senna suddenly felt overwhelmingly tired. “It’s not my blood.”

“Some of it is,” her mother said.

Senna stared at the puncture holes in her palm, her blood mixing with that of her attacker to run in garish streaks down her dress. The glass must have pierced through her cloak. As she looked at the cuts, they started to hurt.

Drenelle, swathed in layers of silk and lace came up in time to hear the last. She saw the blood on Senna’s hands. She gasped and whirled around. “Coyel! Coyel!"

Her mother lifted her skirt. “I’ll get my kit.”

Senna grabbed her arm. “No! They’re still out there!”

“Who’s out there?” Coyel, Head of Sunlight, asked as she came in.

Her mother pulled away from Senna’s grasp. “I’ll be fine. We need to treat your hands.” Short of physically restraining her, Senna knew she could stop her. She watched helplessly as her mother left.

Prenny took Senna’s hands in her own, clicking her tongue at what she saw. Senna winced.

More Witches gathered around Senna. All of them stared at her, fear in their eyes. Senna felt their gazes and wanted to hide. “Two men attacked me.”

“That’s impossible,” Prenny growled. “No one can get on the island.”

Senna met the old woman’s gaze. “Like they didn’t get on the island before?”

Prenny stepped back as if she’d been slapped. “The traitor is dead. All the other Witches are accounted for.”

Chavis marched toward them. The witch was Head of Water, and therefore their leader in battle.

“How many? Where?”

Senna pointed a shaking hand back the way she’d come. “Two of them. On the west side of the island.”

Chavis whirled around. “Witchlings and Apprentices in the circle. Arianis is in charge. Keepers in groups of four, one of those four a Water. Search the island. Senna with me.”

Senna glanced up in time to see Arianis shoot her a glare as she shooed the younger girls into a circle. The Apprentices locked forearms. The ground around them surged. Shimmering like an aurora, a cylindrical barrier rose into the night sky. Nothing and no one could cross until the Witches released each other.

As long as the circle held, the young witches were safe.

Chavis hefted her musket, loading a ball and tapping the powder into the frizzen.
“Sometimes a musket works better than witch song.” Chavis answered Senna’s unasked question. She handed the musket to Prenny and loaded the two pistols she always carried strapped to her sides.

Drenelle grabbed her lantern from the ground.

“Leave it,” Chavis said. “It will only make us targets and blind us to the night.” She started forward without another word.

Senna watched her, her whole body loath to go back into the darkness.

Chavis turned, her pistols gleaming in her hands. Senna’s arms seemed to burn with the memory of being shot. The taste of gunpowder on her tongue the night Bruke had died to save her. She couldn’t seem to move.

“Senna, you need to show us where to go.”

Going back into danger went against every instinct Senna had. She forced herself not to think of it as she stepped from the lantern lit clearing into the darkness beyond.

When they started into the uninhabited part of Haven, Chavis glanced at her askance. “What were you doing here?”

Senna’s mouth was dry. She had to swallow several times before the words would come. “I couldn’t sleep.” Her blood aching with fear, he stopped suddenly. Something at her feet was out of place. She picked up a sling shot, her hand automatically straying to her bruised temple.


Chavis pulled out her pistol. “Prenny and Coyel.”

Prenny handed her musket to Drenelle, who held it away from her body like might sully her white chemise. Then the older witch pulled out four glass vials. “Ready?”

Coyel crooned to the wind.

Wind, from above blow down on me,
Then spread the nips to any who lying in wait be.

The wind gushed down on the top of Senna’s head, billowing outward when it hit the ground.

As Coyel continued the song, Prenny tossed the contents of each vial into the air. The wind caught the powder, billowing it outward.

Even with the wind blowing the nips powder away from the packed group of witches, the back of Senna’s throat itched and her eyes smarted. She held her cloak over her nose and mouth and squinted through watering eyes.

Coyel stopped singing. She rested a hand on Senna’s shoulder. “Anyone the powder touched would erupt into a helpless fit of coughing.”

The witches strained, listening.

“Whoever it was, they’re gone now.” Prenny finally announced.

Senna wiped her streaming eyes.

Chavis stared into the shadows. “We’re not going to find anything on a night like this. Best lock ourselves in and wait till morning. We can do a thorough search then.”

Senna wiped her watering eyes on her cloak. “They could be long gone by then.”

Chavis cursed. “Why didn’t I think of that. Quick, to the entrance pool.”

Passing other groups of searching Witches, the five witches hustled as fast as they dared, their hands outstretched for balance, toward the only way in or out of Haven. Etched in the side of one of the cliffs was a stone archway. Briars and thistle grew thick over the entrance.

“No one’s been here,” Coyel said, her voice heavy with relief.

“Unless a witch sang them inside.” Chavis shoved her guns in there holsters. “One of us should have brought a lamp.”

Drenelle silk chemise rustled. “I did.” Senna heard the scrap of a knife down a striker, sending out a shower of sparks. One caught on the oil wick. Drenelle twisted the lever on a small, ornate lamp.

Senna nearly sighed in relief as light flooded the area. For the first time since leaving the clearing, she could make out the other’s faces instead of just dark shapes.

Coyel sang the briars and thistle free of the entrance.

Chavis took the lantern and eased down the steps, the light throwing harsh shadows on the carved walls. Senna stood on the mosaic stone floor, staring at the still surface of the pool.

Coyel let out a sigh of relief. “All the boats are still here.”

Chavis drummed her fingers on her gun. “Don’t be too relieved, Keeper. That just means they’re still here.”

I don't know about you, but I want to keep reading! To buy Witch Song on Amazon, click here!

And here are the rules to our ginormous giveaway. We’ve put together a puzzle with one keyword found on each website. Complete it and you will be eligible for a fantastic GRAND PRIZE which will include signed editions of books, signed bookmarks, jewelry, and many more exclusive gifts with at least one gift from EVERY AUTHOR! Woot!

Scavenger Hunt Puzzle
Directions: Copy and paste the words below onto a document or print it out and unscramble the words as you proceed through the Scavenger Hunt. Search for keywords, one on each website that will be highlighted in RED. When you are finished, fill out the google form, here





Rules: To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit this filled in puzzle before noon on Dec 4th Pacific Time. All the keywords must be in the correct place and you must include your full name and address. Entries sent in without name and address will not be considered!
And now on to the next stop in the scavenger hunt--click HERE.