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! On 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 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 120 hours!
DIRECTIONS: Below, you’ll notice that I’ve listed my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the PINK team, and then add them up!
ENTRY FORM: Once you’ve added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form HERE to officially quality 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 DATE, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.
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 PINK TEAM–but there is also a red team, a gold team, a green team, a purple team, and a blue team for a chance to win a whole different set of 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.
Cleo has struggled to heal after her baby sister’s death, but the flashbacks to the accident won’t go away. With the move, she vows to keep her tragedy a secret and avoid pitying looks.
Something’s strange about the abandoned house across the street—flashes of light late at night and small flickers of movement that only someone looking for them would see.
Everyone says the house is deserted, but Cleo is sure it isn’t, and she’s sure whoever is inside is watching her.
In one night, Belleza’s life changes forever. So famous, her only choice is to hide her secret from the world so she can silence small town bigotry.
Then Cleo happens.
From GOLDEN HEART® award-winning author McCall Hoyle comes The Thing with Feathers, the story of sixteen-year-old Emilie Day, a girl with epilepsy leaving her safe, homeschooled life for high school on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. For the first time, Emilie must navigate classes, cliques, and crushes, all the while keeping her epilepsy a secret.
The Thing with Feathers is currently a double RITA® Finalist in the prestigious Romance Writers of America® contest for excellence in young adult romance.
Service Dog Awareness and The Thing with Feathers:
Author McCall Hoyle discusses the role that a service dog plays in The Thing with Feathers and the role of a very special golden retriever in her personal life.
1. What inspired you to write The Thing with Feathers?
As a teacher and mom, I observe many teenage girls hiding their true selves from their peers. So I wanted to write a hopeful story about a girl learning to a accept herself for who she was. I taught a student whose family was greatly impacted by her sister’s epilepsy and learned about the unique challenges of living with a covert disability that isn’t immediately visible to strangers and acquaintances.
I also love dogs. By chance, my family inherited a golden retriever who was bred to do service work. The dog was more human than many humans. I began working with this amazing dog, training him for agility and obedience. I became fascinated by golden retrievers and assistant dogs and did a tremendous amount of research and reading about service dogs and the people they love. I was especially intrigued by seizure alert dogs as seizure alerting cannot necessarily be taught and is greatly affected by the bond between the owner and dog.
I knew I had to write a story about a girl with epilepsy learning to love herself unconditionally the way her golden retriever did.
2. Tell us more about your golden retriever.
Chip, by an odd twist of fate ended up with my family. He is and always will be the dog of my heart. He was a super star in basic obedience, passed the canine good citizen test without practicing, and currently serves his community as a certified therapy dog. He visits nursing homes, smiles at everyone he meets, and rests his big blocky head in any lap that will have him. He makes each person he visits feel like the center of the universe—like he or she is his one and only best friend.
3. Is it hard to get a service dog?
Service dogs cost tens of thousands of dollars to raise and train, and many people with special needs wait years for a dog.
Service Dog Awareness Month is the perfect time to give thanks and give back to the wonderful organizations that raise, train, and love these special animals. And don’t forget to spend a little extra time this month with the dog you love as well.
4. What breeds of dog can a service dog be?
Technically, any breed could do service work. However, there are some breeds that are used more regularly than others. Many service dog organizations choose golden retrievers and Labrador retrievers. One reason is that these breeds tend to be very focused on their handlers, which makes sense since they were bred for generations to sit patiently near a hunter or fisherman until asked to retrieve a duck or a net.
Goldens and labs are also sturdy enough to do tough work such as lifting and pulling. Again, they were bred to retrieve in frigid water. German Shepherds are common for many of the same reasons, and poodle mixes are being used more frequently to cut down on shedding and because they are less aggravating to people with allergies. Some organizations prefer dogs with a “friendly look” so that the public won’t be frightened or intimidated by the service dog—another tick mark in favor of goldens and labs.
Ultimately, any breed can do service work as long as it is physically and emotionally suited to its required tasks. For example, any trainable dog could be used as a diabetic or seizure alert dog.
5. What kinds of service dogs are there?
There are guide dogs, hearing dogs, and general service dogs that can be trained for everything from seizure and diabetic alerting to pulling wheelchairs, retrieving items, and turning lights off and on.
6. Tell us about the service dog in your book, The Thing with Feathers? Did you model his personality after Chip?
The service dog in my book, Hitch, is totally modeled after Chip. In hindsight, I probably should have just named him Chip. Both dogs have hearts of gold. Chip wants to please. He loves everyone equally. I have seen little girls who are terrified of dogs hug his neck after spending a few hours in his presence. I have seen him ignore warm chicken from the deli as drool rolled down his chest because he didn’t want to be scolded.
I do want to mention one thing about golden retrievers though. One of the characteristics that makes them such good service dogs is that they are extremely handler/human focused. They need to be near their people and thrive when they are mentally stimulated as are all dogs.
Sadly, many goldens are surrendered at Humane Societies and shelters because families purchase them for birthday presents and Christmas presents because they’re such darn cute puppies. But they get big, they shed a lot, and they’re very powerful. If they are bored, abandoned to the back yard, and develop the bad habit of chewing or digging, they can be extremely destructive. They are generally intelligent and easily trained, but they are not mind readers, and like any breed require basic training.
I love dogs and this breed in particular so much that I really needed to get that disclaimer out there.
However, if you want a dog that adores you and pretty much everyone else and that can be trained to do most anything, a golden retriever, like Hitch or Chip, might be perfect for you.
7. Is there anywhere that service dogs are not permitted?
Generally, service dogs are permitted anywhere that their handlers with disabilities are publically allowed. For example, service dogs are allowed in dining areas of restaurants but not necessarily the kitchens of such establishments. Business owners should review the Americans with Disabilities Act to ensure that they do not unfairly or unintentionally discriminate against people with disabilities and/or their service dogs.
8. Do service dogs ever get to play and be regular dogs?
When a service dog is out of his gear or vest, this is his signal that he’s off the clock and can relax, play, and just be a dog. Service work requires a lot of concentration, so it’s very important that these dogs have ample time to relax and play.
9. What should you do or not do when you meet a person with a service dog?
You should always be respectful and use common sense. In my experience, people with service dogs are often happy to chat and answer nonintrusive questions about their dogs. I have a friend with a service dog who experienced a sense of isolation from her peers at school and in the community because of her disability. She appreciates the fact that her service dog puts others at ease and that he helps her interact with strangers. But people with disabilities are just like anyone else. Sometimes they are in a hurry. Sometimes they don’t feel like talking, and they shouldn’t be expected to stop what they’re doing to educate the public about service dogs or listen to stories about other dogs.
I am a dog lover and want to greet and interact with every dog I meet, but out of respect, I have a general rule when I see working dogs in public. If the handler does not make eye contact with me or appears to be in a hurry, I absolutely do not interrupt. However, if the handler makes eye contact and smiles, I ask if it’s okay to pet the dog and/or ask questions about the dog.
Again, be respectful, use common sense, and, if in doubt, give the person the privacy he or she deserves.