I’d like to thank everyone who participated in the YA Scavenger Hunt yesterday, including our awesome coordinator, Colleen Houck, the authors who provided bonus material and prizes, and the readers and fans who participated. It was a truly amazing event. The most traffic I’d ever had on my blog up to that point was 99 hits in a day, but on Sunday night I got 141 and on Monday I got 2386. That’s astounding. Colleen was so pleased with the turnout that she intends to do more of these scavenger hunts in the future. Stay tuned for details.
And now I’d like to announce the winners. The puzzle-solver who won the grand prize is Anne Liu. She will receive autographed books from the majority of the authors who participated.
The winner of my personal giveaway, which includes ebook versions of my current YA novel, Running Wide Open, my next book, Getting Sideways and my friend Alice Lynn’s upcoming women’s fiction/crossover novel, Scattered Pieces, is Carie Landell. Congratulations, Anne and Carie! And a special thanks to all of you who entered my contest.
And now, for those of you who might have missed it, here’s the bonus material I presented for the scavenger hunt. The following are deleted scenes from an early version of Running Wide Open. The intent was to show Cody’s emotional nature and the struggle he had, being a boy who felt things so intensely.
Since I’d passed the written test and gotten my permit a few days before, Race let me drive to the wrecking yard. It was a great morning to be behind the wheel, but as we went past the millrace, I saw something that made the day go sour. Someone had run over a female mallard, and her mate was diligently watching over her body, oblivious to the traffic speeding by. It was only a matter of time before he bit it, too.
“Stupid duck,” I said, my throat knotting. Birds had more loyalty than people. How messed up was that?
“Pull over,” said Race.
I swerved to the side of the road and stopped, watching my uncle get a greasy old towel out of the rear of the van. He jogged back to the ducks and scooped up the female. Her mate waddled over the curb to follow him as he deposited the body under a tree a few yards from the street.
“I can’t believe you did that,” I said when Race climbed back into the passenger seat.
“Nobody else woulda.”
“Sure they—” Race got a look at me and stopped. “You okay, kid?”
“Of course,” I said, glaring at him. “Why wouldn’t I be?”
Race continued to study me for a second. “No reason. Let’s go.”
Mom never liked to be disturbed by the selfish needs of some kid, even if it was her own. She hated to hear me cry. One of my first memories is of playing with my favorite toy truck on the living room floor when I was maybe three. The wheel fell off and I stared bawling.
“Frank, can’t you shut that kid up?” Mom said. “I’m trying to watch my favorite show.”
“Go to your room, Cody,” Dad said. He knew better than to piss her off.
Things like that must’ve happened a million times. Mom’s mantra was, “big boys don’t cry.” It didn’t matter how old I was or what I was crying about. She just didn’t want to hear it. When the dog across the street chewed the head off my teddy bear she said, “big boys don’t cry.” When my best friend moved away in first grade she said, “big boys don’t cry.” When I crashed my bike and got road rash all down my leg she said, ”big boys don’t cry.” But the real clincher was the squirrel when I was in third grade.
I guess it must’ve been about November, because the leaves were falling, but those little helicopter seeds were still stuck to the ends of the twigs in the maples at the end of our driveway. My neighbor, Mary, was the one who pointed out the squirrels to me. She was a nice lady. She always went out of her way to say hello and talk to me when I was out in the yard.
“Look how the squirrels go right out to the tips of the twigs,” she said. “Those branches can’t even support their weight, but they never fall.”
She was right. The squirrels bobbed and flailed in the trees, making wild jumps from one twig to another. Their tails twisted like crazy, but they never lost their balance. They never got scared.
Mary put a feeder in one of her trees. It was a big glass jar that sat sideways on a wooden platform. The squirrels had to go inside the jar to get the food. It was so cool seeing them inside the glass like that.
“Why do you feed them?” I asked. Mom hated squirrels. She knew a lady who’d had one crawl in her attic and die. She was convinced that all the squirrels in Portland were going to make it their personal mission to croak in the attic and stink the place up.
“I like them. Don’t you like them? Anyway, it keeps them from digging up my bulbs.”
One Saturday Mom was getting ready to take me to the mall for some new shoes. I went out to get the paper and saw a squirrel squashed in the street outside Mary’s house. When I took a closer look I noticed the tip of its tail was missing. It was one of the regulars at Mary’s feeder. I went to get a shovel. I was just scooping up the squirrel when Mom came out of the house.
“What are you doing, Cody? We need to get going. I’ve got a million things to do today.”
“I gotta bury this squirrel.”
“Leave it, it’s probably diseased. Let’s go.”
I leaned the shovel up against the trunk of one of the maples and got into the car.
Mom did a double-take at me across the front seat, a scowl twisting her face. “Are you crying again? Why are you sniveling about a dead squirrel? It’s not like you’ve never seen one before.”
“Yeah, “ I said, swiping at my cheeks with the back of my hand. “But I knew this one.”
Mom grunted and shook her head. “It’s just a rat with a furry tail. I don’t know what you expected. If you put food out, they’re going to cross the street to get at it. Now stop the waterworks. Big boys don’t cry.”
I rubbed my eyes, trying to erase the evidence. Why should I care about a damned squirrel, anyway?
When we got home I went out to the garage. I found a sledgehammer and the stepladder then ran next door and knocked the hell out of the squirrel feeder.
Mary never talked to me when I was out in the yard after that.