Meet the Maids of Honor

YA Scavenger Hunt – Team Teal – Featuring Victoria Strauss!

CPiwbURUYAAutDpWelcome to YA Scavenger Hunt! This bi-annual event was first organized by author Colleen Houck (who is amazing) 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 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!

Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are SIX contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the TEAL TEAM but there are teams of many colors, all offering lots of signed books!

More after the jump! 

If you’d like to see links to all the authors participating, and the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.


Directions: Below, you’ll notice that I’ve listed my favorite number (hint… it’s in RED). Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on TEAM TEAL, 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 Oct. 4, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.



Today, I am hosting Victoria Strauss on my website for the YA Scavenger Hunt! Victoria Strauss is the author of nine novels for adults and young adults, including Passion Blue and Color Song, a pair of historical novels for teens. She has also written a handful of short stories, hundreds of book reviews, and a number of articles on writing and publishing that have appeared in Writer’s Digest, among others. In 2006, she served as a judge for the World Fantasy Awards.

Victoria is co-founder, with Ann Crispin, of Writer Beware, a publishing industry watchdog group sponsored by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) that provides information and warnings about the many scams and schemes that threaten writers. She maintains the popular Writer Beware website and blog, for which she was a 2012 winner of an Independent Book Blogger Award. She was honored with the SFWA Service Award in 2009. She lives in Amherst, Massachusetts.

Find out more information by checking out the author website or find more about the author’s book, COLOR SONG, at her Website!  Or on her page of Book Information


Color-Song-Cover-hi-resArtistically brilliant, Giulia is blessed – or cursed – with a spirit’s gift: she can hear the mysterious singing of the colors she creates in the convent workshop of Maestra Humilità. It’s here that Giulia, forced into the convent against her will, has found unexpected happiness, and rekindled her passion to become a painter – an impossible dream for any woman in 15th century Italy.

But when a dying Humilità bequeaths Giulia her most prized possession – the secret formula for the luminously beautiful paint called Passion blue – Giulia realizes she’s in danger from those who have long coveted the famous color for themselves. Faced with the prospect of lifelong imprisonment in the convent, forever barred from painting as a punishment for keeping Humilita’s secret, Giulia is struck by a desperate idea: What if she disguises herself as a boy? Could she make her way to Venice and find work as an artist’s apprentice?

Along with the truth of who she is, Giulia carries more dangerous secrets: the exquisite voices of her paint colors and the formula for Humilità’s precious blue. And Venice, with its graceful gondolas and twisting canals, its gilded palazzi and masked balls, has secrets of its own. Trapped in her false identity in this dream-like place where reality and reflection are easily confused, where art and ambition, love and deception hover like dense fog, can Giulia find her way?

This compelling novel explores timeless themes of love and illusion, gender and identity as it asks the question: what does it mean to risk everything to follow your true passion?


I’m super excited to share Victoria’s bonus content, a SNEAK PEAK into her book WORLDSTONE!


Chapter 2

Sixteen-year-old Zina Taylor has been sent to live with distant relatives on their farm in upstate New York. Miserably unhappy, she spends her free time exploring the woods around the property, where she finds a cave that becomes her secret refuge from the constant chores and the bullying of her cousin, Toby. But the cave is more than just a cave, as she discovers one hot afternoon, when she encounters two fugitives from another world….


Zina’s T-shirt was damp with sweat by the time she reached the shade of the trees that grew along the base of the ledge. She scrambled up the slope, fallen leaves and pine needles sliding under her feet, and began to climb the rock face. Winter lingered here: the stone was iron-cold under her hands, and ice shone inside cracks and fissures.

On the ledge, she paused to catch her breath. It had been perfectly still all day, with not a breath of wind. But now a breeze brushed down from the heights, stirring the ferns and rustling the pine boughs. It died as abruptly as it had arrived, and everything fell quiet.

Too quiet. Zina realized she could hear nothing–no sound at all, not even birdsong. But as her eyes swung toward the cave, still hidden beyond the curve of the ledge, she could feel something–a deepening, an indrawing, like the drag of a receding tide or a vast creature pulling in its breath. It wanted to take her with it. She resisted, pressing flat against the frigid rock face, digging her fingers into crevices. Deeper…farther…the breath nearly at its peak, the tide almost to its turning point…Zina’s own breathing slowed, and her pulse, beating in her throat….

She felt her heart stop.

And then the world exploded back into motion, and her heart was beating again, pounding in her chest. She could hear birdsong and the whisper of the wind. High above, clouds raced across the sky. She felt dizzy and a little sick.

What just happened? Unsteadily, she pushed away from the rock. She didn’t think she had lost consciousness. Yet she had a sense of missing time, as if several minutes of her life had simply vanished.

From the direction of the cave came a thump, like something heavy falling. Then a rustling.

Terror seized her. Without pausing to think, she flung herself up the rock face, scaling it until she reached a smaller outcrop above the ledge. There she crouched, panting. What had she heard? A coyote? A bear? She’d been warned to be watchful, but she hadn’t really believed that wild animals would come so close to human-inhabited areas.

She could hear nothing now but nature-sounds. Maybe she’d over-reacted. She leaned forward, just enough for a view of the ledge below. It was empty. Or–wait–

She saw his shadow first, sliding along the ledge. A man. She jerked back, but she’d been coming here for months and had never seen another living soul, and her curiosity was stronger than her fear. She craned forward again. There were two of them. The taller man, in the lead, was enveloped in a cloak that reached to his ankles, its hood drawn up to hide his face. His companion was shorter and broader, dressed in a tunic and leggings like someone out of a medieval painting. A huge pack hung from his shoulders.

What on earth…? 

The tall man held a wrapped bundle in his arms. As he passed below, Zina caught a flash of something she could not identify–a kind of pulsing, felt more than heard, like the thrumming of a generator behind heavy doors. She concentrated on it, reaching forward with her mind in the way she’d always done when something interested her. There was a peculiar sense of meeting a barrier, a resistance that held for a moment and then yielded–and then all at once she felt a blow, like striking solid rock at the end of a long fall. It was not physical, but reaction to it flung her back as if she had been struck.

The man in the cloak stopped dead. He looked around, his narrow eyes lingering on the ledge where Zina crouched, willing herself to be invisible. After an endless moment he gestured to his companion. Once again they proceeded along the ledge. They reached its end and climbed down, one after the other, and disappeared among the trees.

It was several heart-pounding moments before Zina realized that she had not actually seen any of this with her eyes. Rather, she had somehow sensed it without looking, in images as clear as sight.

She was shivering now, cold despite the unseasonable warmth of the day. Her head ached as if someone really had struck her. She forced herself to wait, in case the men were not alone. At last she climbed back down to the ledge. There she hesitated. I should leave, she thought—-the farm, for the first time ever, seeming not like a prison but a haven. But curiosity was pulling her again, almost as strong as the force she had sensed earlier. Surrendering, she tiptoed along the ledge, pressing close to the rock face, until she reached the entrance to the cave and could peer inside.

It was empty–though in the late-afternoon sunlight that slanted across the floor, Zina could see that the carpet of leaves and pine needles had been scuffed by the passage of feet. An odd smell hung in the air, catching at the back of her throat like the ozone-odor of a humid day.

Where had the men come from? Why had they been in the cave? Were they vagrants, passing through? Criminals or fugitives, hiding out? But why would vagrants or criminals–or anyone, really–be dressed like people at a Renaissance Faire? Belatedly, Zina realized that if she’d gotten here just a little earlier, she would have encountered them face to face. And then there was the strange sucking force she’d felt…and the weird thrumming of the wrapped thing the tall man carried in his arms….

Zina began to turn away. As she did, something flashed at the edge of her vision. She paused. Was there…? Yes, over there, toward the back of the cave–some small thing lying among the leaves, catching the last light of the sun.

She approached and bent down to pick it up. It was a golden disc, about the size and thickness of a poker chip, stamped with an image of some sort. She turned it over on her palm. Letters were engraved on its surface, spelling words she did not understand.

She returned to the ledge, the disc closed in her hand, and looked out over the meadow to see if she could catch a glimpse of the two men. Nothing. And yet as she thought of them she felt something, a sort of…pulling…inside her head. An image rose behind her eyes: the men, walking along the foot of the ridge, keeping to the trees so they would be hidden. That was what they had done, she was sure. Yet how could she know that? Once again, she had not actually seen them.

To the west, the sun was sinking behind the hills, drawing long shadows across the valley below. Zina’s heart was beating much too fast. It was past time, she knew, to be gone.


And don’t forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of signed books by me, Victoria Strauss, and more! If you enter the other team contests, too, you could end up with way more than ****27**** books! Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on TEAM TEAL and you’ll have all the secret code to enter for the grand prize!


To keep going on your quest for the hunt, you need to check out the next author, Diana Renn


A little birdie told me...