Hi! I’m Jessica Spotwood, author of The Cahill Witch Chronicles. Books 1 and 2, BORN WICKED and STAR CURSED, are out now in paperback. Book 3, SISTERS’ FATE, just came out in August! My books are historical fantasies about witches and sisters and kissing that will hopefully make you swoon – and cry. And at the end of this post, I’m giving away some stuff, so don’t forget to read all the way to the end!
Now, for the reason you’re here…
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! At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a secret number. Add up the numbers, and enter for a chance to win 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) starts at noon PST today (Thursday, October 2) and will only be online until noon PST on Sunday, October 5!
You can start right here or you can 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 of them! I am a part of the ORANGE TEAM.
If you’d like to find out more about the hunt, see which authors are participating, and check out the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt homepage.
SCAVENGER HUNT PUZZLE
Directions: Below, you’ll notice that I’ve listed my favorite number in orange. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the orange team, and then add them up!
Entry Form: Once you’ve added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form 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 October 5, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.
Now…I am super-excited to be hosting…
Nicole is the author of the international bestselling children’s fantasy series, THE DRAGONRIDER CHRONICLES, about a young boy’s journey into manhood as he trains to become a dragonrider.
Originally from a small town in North Alabama, Nicole moves frequently due to her husband’s career as a pilot for the United States Air Force. She received a B.A. in English from Auburn University, and will soon attend graduate school. She has previously worked as a freelance and graphic artist for promotional companies, but has now embraced writing as a full-time occupation.
About FLEDGLING, Book 1: Jaevid Broadfeather has grown up as a wartime refugee, hiding from the world because of his mixed racial heritage. He feels his future is hopeless, until a chance encounter with a wild dragon lands him in Blybrig Academy—a place usually forbidden to anyone but the rich and royal. But Jaevid’s case is special; no dragon has voluntarily chosen a rider in decades, so the proud riders of Blybrig must begrudgingly let him join their brotherhood despite his bloodline. But while struggling through the rigorous physical demands of training, things begin to go awry. Jaevid witnesses the king’s private guards kidnapping his personal instructor, Sile Derrick, in the dead of night. When none of the elder riders are willing to help him, Jaevid begins a dangerous adventure to save his instructor.
Now for our exclusive content! Nicole is sharing a whole bonus chapter with us!
It’s a pull like gravity, and nothing I can truly explain. You have to feel it to understand it. Some say it’s like falling in love, or like that first time a mother looks into the eyes of her newborn child. The world shifts. Priorities rearrange. Hearts turn. And nothing is ever the same.
It was no different for me when I first felt the pull of the bond. In the blink of an eye, everything changed. The force of the bond tugged at my spirit, willing me away from my home like a forceful tide. I had no choice but to obey. I had to find this missing piece of myself—this part of my soul that had been ripped from me and hidden away somewhere in the world. I had to find the biped that was destined to be my ally.
I left my home behind. I flew for days and nights on end, the wind filling my wings and carrying me away from the sea. I passed over mountains, over valleys, and across marshes. I soared under the stars without stopping even once to feed or drink. My body grew weaker and weaker, but the call of the bond was relentless. I couldn’t give up. I had to keep going.
Then they spotted me. The bipeds saw me flying too near to one of their settlements, and suddenly the chase was on. I watched them mount up on members of my own kind—elder drakes and queens nearly twice my size. They were bigger, stronger, and apparently used to hunting as a pack. But I was fast, faster than any other young male in my clutch. It was my gift. Unfortunately, this time I knew I wouldn’t be able to evade them for long. My body was too weak and tired.
As they closed in, I begged my kin to give me enough time to find the one I was meant to bond with. But they didn’t listen, and they didn’t answer. In fact, it seemed like they didn’t even understand me at all.
When my kin caught up to me, they circled around me. All of a sudden, nets of woven metal tangled in my wings. The more I struggled, the more tangled up I became. I fell from the sky, but fought all the way down.
When I finally hit the earth, I tried clawing at the nets. I tried to shake them off. I spat burning venom at anything that came close to me. But the bipeds weren’t afraid of me. They moved with purpose, as though they had done this many times before. A muzzle of cold metal was forced onto my snout. It prevented me from spitting flame or snapping my jaws. Chains and straps bound my wings and feet so tightly that I couldn’t move.
I was captured.
The bipeds covered my eyes so I couldn’t see where I was going, but my nose and ears worked well enough. I could hear them all around me as they loaded me onto a cattle-drawn cart. I wasn’t sure what they would do to me. The fact that members of my own species had ignored my pleas was haunting. It scared and enraged me. I wondered if whatever torture had been exacted on them would now me directed at me. But even in that dark hour, I still felt the pull of the bond. It was still there, humming in my head like the glassy star songs did at night. It gave me boundless hope that I would survive this. Somehow, I would escape.
I could find the biped meant for me.
They moved me many, many miles. I knew it because I could smell the change in landscape. I could feel the air become cold, and then very hot and dry. They offered me no food or water, and for some reason they assumed I couldn’t understand their words. Did I look like some stupid prey-beast? Or did these bipeds really not remember that my kind could understand them?
It was many days later when I was brought to a place that smelled like it had been dried up by the sun. There were many intermingling scents of hundreds of drakes and queens. I could sense them all around me, but my eyes were still covered. When I called out to them for help they didn’t answer—just like the others.
Only when I’d been taken into a cooler, enclosed place and chained to the ground my many metal chains did they finally uncover my eyes. I was in what looked like some sort of biped-made cave. Small fires burned around a big circular room, filling it with an eerie light. Then I saw them all standing around me—more bipeds than I cared to count. Strangely, all of them were male. Some were old and others were fairly young. Most of them were wearing armor and carrying weapons, and they stared at me with tense expressions. I could smell their fear, their enthusiasm, and awe.
“He’s too old,” one of the older bipeds said gruffly. “You can’t break a wild dragon that old. They have too much of a stubborn spirit.”
But they didn’t listen to his warning. One after another, they tried to saddle me anyway. Some tried reasoning with me in soothing voices while they snuck the saddle onto my back. As if I wouldn’t notice that. Others tried to dominate me outright by forcing a saddle onto my back.
Whichever approach they decided to try—it didn’t matter. I wasn’t some stupid beast to be bent to their will. The instant my chains were loosened and my subservience was tested, I sent each one of their foolish candidates sailing through the air. Bones cracked. Bipeds screamed and recoiled as I turned on them and snarled through the muzzle that was still strapped to my snout. None of these bipeds was the one I had come to find. None of them were fit to sit on my back let alone share the air with me.
“A few more days without food and water might soften him up.” One of the bipeds growled at me as though that were meant to be a threat.
I growled at him, watching with pleasure as he scrambled away in terror.
“Don’t be ridiculous.” Another one stepped towards me boldly. He carried himself with authority, as though he were in charge. “We can’t risk anyone else getting hurt. Not for one wild dragon. He’s too old. Leave him here tonight, but by morning I want him back on a cart headed for the stock exchange. We may at least be able to make something off him if he can be sold as a breeding sire.”
This male must have been their leader because his word was taken as law without argument. The others disbanded, leaving one-by-one until I was left alone in the cavernous, torch lit arena. Chains still bound me to the ground. It didn’t matter how I wriggled; I couldn’t break free. Even my head had been fastened to the earth.
Hours passed in silence, except for the crackling flames that lit the room. I contemplated my fate. Even though I didn’t know what a stock exchange was, I had a feeling that was the last place in the world I wanted to go. I got a bad feeling off these bipeds. They obviously had no respect at all for my kind. They were treating me like one of their cattle animals, and expecting me to take any rider they slapped on my back.
I opened my eyes again as the doors of the chamber opened. I was expecting the cart, more chains, and a whole new flock of bipeds to force me into both.
But it was just one—one biped male who came walking towards me, staring straight into my eyes. He carried no weapons. He wasn’t wearing any armor. And I got the immediate impression by the look he was giving me that he knew I could understand him.
“Is this how you want it to end?” He called out to me.
I hissed a warning.
It didn’t seem to frighten him, though. “You know what they’ll do, right? If you’re sold for breeding, then they’ll cut your wing tendons. You’ll never be able to fly again.”
That sounded an awful lot like a threat. A threat from a soft-bodied little worm I could have crushed in my jaws without even trying. I roared at him as loudly as the muzzle would allow, letting him feel a blast of my breath and the fumes of my venom.
“They aren’t going to let you go. You’re going to have to make a choice. Which is more important to you? Pride or your life?” He growled back at me. “I know you can understand me, drake. So what will it be?”
I flexed against the chains again, struggling and letting out another growl of frustration. It was no good. My body was too weak. I was too exhausted to break free.
Then I heard it: the sound of small frightened breaths. The smell of another biped, a young one, floated in through the entrance of the chamber. There were footsteps running, retreating into the darkness beyond the doors.
The arrogant male who had been “reasoning” with me cursed and began running away towards the entrance. He dashed through the open doors, vanishing into the darkness. I didn’t know what to make of it. Bipeds were the strangest creatures I’d ever met.
The noise of muffled voices began echoing of all the walls and the high domed ceiling. They were too far away and the echoes confused the sounds, so I couldn’t understand anything they said. But when the arrogant biped returned with a second, much smaller one in tow . . . all of a sudden nothing else mattered.
Our eyes met—that much smaller biped and mine—and it was like the world had shifted again. Everything snapped into focus. The weight of the bond pulled on every fiber of my being more intensely than it ever had. And I knew.
He was the one.
This was one I had traveled so far to find. I had left behind my family, my home, and endured insults and abuse all in search of this one person. As our gazes locked, I waited for him to speak. I wanted some sort of validation, some kind of assurance that he felt it, too. But he didn’t speak. He didn’t move at all. He just looked scared.
I growled in frustration, trying to startle him into action. Didn’t he know what this meant? Couldn’t he feel the pull of the bond, too? He began to talk, babbling on with that arrogant older male about my fate. He sounded worried, at least. That was progress.
I twitched my tail in annoyance, waiting to see what the verdict would be. Finally, the little biped started to approach me. He started into my eyes, and I growled anxiously. He sure was taking his sweet time.
“Please,” he practically whimpered. “I know what it feels like, believe me. They don’t know what to do with you. And now they want to keep you here like some kind of prisoner. It’s not fair. It’s not right.”
I growled louder. Each shaky step he took brought him closer. The nearer he came, the more I noticed how strange he looked compared to the other bipeds. His ears were somewhat pointed. His face was battered and bruised like he’d been in a fight. He looked malnourished.
Fortunately, I didn’t care what he looked like. I only cared if he felt what I felt. My destiny was tied to this puny little biped, and that wasn’t something I dared to question.
He kept talking while I sized him up. All the while, he was inching closer and closer. I could see him shaking like a leaf. One growl or roar probably would have sent him scrambling for cover.
But then he said something I wasn’t expecting.
“Let me be your rider. I swear I won’t make you do anything you don’t want to do. And when we’re finished, when the war is over, you’ll be free to go back to the wild. I won’t treat you like a dumb animal. You’ll be my partner. We’ll get through this together. We’ll be a team. I swear. You have my word.”
His small hand touched my nose, and I felt our bond begin to seal over in my mind. It was a rush, as though he were becoming a part of me. Our minds were melding—becoming one. I could glimpse the world through his eyes. I could feel what he felt. I breathed in his wild, strange scent. Faintly, I could sense something ancient in his blood—something that whispered to every corner of my heart. It confused and filled me with anxious energy. Whatever that power was, it was miniscule. Like a tiny spark, it barely smoldered inside this boy.
But when he touched me, my strength was instantly restored.
With the quick metallic clink of a lock, my new partner set me free. I shook off the chains these bipeds had used to bind me to the earth. I stretched my wings for the first time in days.
That arrogant male biped came towards me brandishing a spear. The audacity of this species was amusing sometimes. But right now, it was just annoying. I wanted to teach him a little humility. You know, give him a lesson in where he stood on the food chain.
But my partner started begging. “Stop! Don’t hurt him!”
Great. Not only was he small and, but he was also a bleeding heart. I snorted angrily, shooting him a glare to let him know how unfair this was. These bipeds had made a mockery of me. They’d insulted me in every possible way. And now I had to shrug it off?
I growled. I didn’t like it, but I consented.
“Unbelievable,” the arrogant man whispered. “Do it again.”
My partner started talking to me again, asking that I do something to show him that he could trust me. A sign of trust? It made sense. After all, now that our thoughts were beginning to become interwoven, I could tell he was scared of me. My size and my strength were terrifying to him. He’d never been so close to a dragon before. And he didn’t understand the depth of our bond.
He would learn, though.
As I crouched down to let him sit on my back, I showed him that sign of trust. It was the ultimate act of trust my kind could offer his. I would carry him—into battle, into peace, into whatever storm we might face. He could share the air with me and together, we would be united until one or both of us died. That was what the bond meant. It wasn’t a deal, or a bargain. It was unconditional acceptance.
From the moment our bond was made, that boy was mine and I was his. We became brothers of one mind. And there was no force on earth that could ever break that connection.
Wow. I wish I had a dragon, don’t you? Or 27 of them!
To find out more about the Dragonrider Chronicles, you can check out Nicole’s website.
The next stop on the hunt is Lisa Bergren‘s blog.
But before you leave – I’m giving away 1 signed copy of any of my books (international, winner’s choice!) and 5 sets of Cahill Witch bookmarks & bookplates! Just fill out the Rafflecopter below to enter. I’m also doing Goodreads giveaways for 3 signed copies each of STAR CURSED and SISTERS’ FATE right now, so you may want to hop over and enter those too if you’re in the US! Yay, free books!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Originally published at Jessica Shea Spotswood. You can comment here or there.