Can you believe it? Just a few weeks ago, he was a lowly 25th and last seed. He's beaten dudes from infinitely better-known books. How? Through the hard work and immense creativity of his advocates, Fictitious Delicious.
My bribes didn't hurt, either.
Anyway, the next round is going on now, now, now, until 9am eastern tomorrow. You can vote once per computer or handheld device, so you know, if you happen to be stopping by the library, or at a friend's house....
I promised to post another Shine teaser if he won last week, and to donate $100 to the Tartan Army Children's Charity. Several bloggers and a fellow YA author pitched in, so our total was $450!
So this week...the
And more complicated, because win or lose, good things will happen today if Zachary's supporters come out and vote.
For every 100 votes he receives, the following will happen:
1a) His advocates, Fictitious Delicious, will donate $5 to TACC. The last matchup had about 2500 votes on each side, so this could be huge.
b) An anonymous donor (not me, I swear, I'm poor now) will match total donations UP TO $500! (Edited to add: another blogger has just agreed to match another $50!)
2) I will tweet a snippet from Shine, under the hashtag #SHINEline. If you're not on Twitter, don't worry--I'll compile the lines and put them in a blog post next week, and that'll serve as the Shine teaser. After today, there are very few spoiler-free Zachary scenes. I never expected him to make it this far. Oops!
ALSO, WIN OR LOSE:
3) Fictitious Delicious will give away an ARC of SHINE.
Now, let me explain something really important:
My publisher does not print ARCs for third books in a series. But I'll be printing my own ARCs, a limited run of 20, because they're extremely expensive to make.
Of these 20, 8 are already spoken for by SHIFT blog tour winners, which leaves
for you. Possibly.
3 now belong to Fictitious Delicious, Zach's advocates, because I told them they'd get one for every round of the tournament Zachary won.
Bottom line: these are super, super rare. If you want one, learn how you can win it from Fictitious Delicious today! Hint: it involves voting for Zach and getting other people to do it, too.
All that will happen even if Zachary loses. I want this round to be a fun. Getting to the Final Four, the Big Dance, is a party in itself.
I'll write and publish a short story from his point-of-view. Maybe from his pre-Aura days, maybe from a period during one of the books. Maybe from the future. Who knows? It'll come out either right before or right after Shine's publication, depending when it takes place.
So if you want more of the SHADE world, go vote for Zachary! (As of 9:45am, he's falling behind!)
And now, the Round Three-reward teaser, aka the grand finale....
(Note: the xxx's in the text are parts I had to redact to avoid spoilers/confusion.)
(Obligatory disclaimer: this is a relatively rough version. It hasn't even been line edited, much less copyedited or proofread. So it's likely to improve a ton before the final version.)
Setting: Hotel room, somewhere in Northern Ireland. December 22. Evening. Aura and Zachary have had a Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day.
Zachary held still while I wound the bandage around his chest to cover the xxxxx xxxx.
Mostly still, anyway. After his fifth wince, he said, “Ever notice in the movies, the hero gets shot or stabbed and never even blinks, but when the beautiful girl is nursing his wounds, he can’t stop flinching?”
“That’s because of adrenaline. And Hollywood.” My face warmed at his indirectly calling me “beautiful.”
I pressed the last piece of tape onto his back, smoothing it against the gauze, then slid my fingers up and over the unbroken skin of his bare shoulder.
Zachary closed his eyes and breathed in deep. “Aura, d’ye think we could end this not-touching-each-other shite? It’s frankly killing me, as sure as any knife.”
I leaned forward to kiss him, but he slipped around me, tugging me out of the bathroom and toward the bed.
I stopped. “Wait. I still feel weird, after the xxxxxx, like xxxx’xx...xx me. Plus I’m kind of gross.” I held up my other arm, still faintly blood-stained. “Maybe if I take a shower—”
He let go of my hand. “Go. Hurry.”
“I’ll be quick.”
“I’ll be waiting.”
The hot water was just what I needed. Cascading over my scalp and shoulders, it chased away the last shadows of clamminess. I rested my palms against the sandy-tiled wall and let the flood caress the back of my neck, loosening the tension of the last twenty-four hours of—well, almost dying.
I’d been in the shower less than two minutes when a knock came at the door.
“Yeah?” I heard the door open. “Forget something?”
“Aye.” A sliver of curtain peeled back, enough to show one of Zachary’s vibrant green eyes, dark with desire. “I forgot how hard it is to think of you in the shower.”
I shifted back, the water now between us, blurring his image. “There’s not much room in here.”
“Aye.” He stepped inside, putting half his body under the spray. The lower half.
I lifted my hands. “Your bandage’ll get wet.”
“Aye.” He took my wrists and moved forward, pinning me against the hard, slick wall, arms above my head. Then he kissed me, settling himself fully under the stream of steaming water. Water that flowed from his once-forbidden skin onto mine, its path unbroken by air or space.
With my hands in his grasp and his name on my lips, I could believe that nothing—not even time itself—could tear us apart.
I saved the best for last, a video presentation for Zachary by Fictitious Delicious. It made me cry. And laugh. And realize that after knowing Team Kilt, no matter how the vote goes, I've already won.