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Tuesday 27 September 2016

I am so excited to be part of this year's YA Scavenger Hunt!

(Before you start hunting for the SECRET NUMBER hidden somewhere on this blog, let's get the hunt details out of the way.)

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 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 72 hours!

Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are eight contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the RED TEAM--but there is also a blue team, an orange team, a gold team, a green team, a teal team, a blue team, a purple team, and a pink 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.


Directions: Below, you'll notice that I've hidden my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the RED TEAM, 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. 5th, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.

Introducing the author I'm hosting....Shonna Slayton!

Here's a little about Shonna:
SHONNA SLAYTON writes historical fairy tales for Entangled TEEN. She finds inspiration in reading vintage diaries written by teens, who despite using different slang, sound a lot like teenagers today. When not writing, Shonna enjoys amaretto lattes and spending time with her husband and children in Arizona.
Learn more about Shonna’s books—including how to download a free one—at

The most exciting part of YASH is the exclusive content! Here's a delicious tidbit from Shonna about her latest book, 'Spindle'.

In a world where fairies lurk and curses linger, love can bleed like the prick of a finger…
Briar Rose knows her life will never be a fairy tale. She’s raising her siblings on her own, her wages at the spinning mill have been cut, and the boy she thought she had a future with has eyes for someone else. Most days it feels like her best friend, Henry Prince, is the only one in her corner…though with his endless flirty jokes, how can she ever take him seriously?
When a mysterious peddler offers her a “magic” spindle that could make her more money, sneaking it into the mill seems worth the risk. But then one by one, her fellow spinner girls come down with the mysterious sleeping sickness…and Briar’s not immune.
If Briar wants to save the girls―and herself―she’ll have to start believing in fairy tales…and in the power of a prince’s kiss.

Shonna does her research when she writes her modern takes on old world tales. Here's what she learned about 'Hanging out Victorian Style'
My new historical fairy tale, Spindle, is a Sleeping Beauty inspired tale set in the late 1800s. Think fairies, and curses, and a special spindle, but also cotton mills, boarding houses…and no internet!
Without modern conveniences like smart phones, or places like Starbucks to hang out at, where did all the young people go and what did they do?
They went to someone’s parlor to play games. The boarding houses had parlors for the girls to meet their suitors in a respectable way. Here is a list of some group games from the era. Try these at your next party:
1. Wink Murder—One person is chosen as the murderer (secretly through drawing lots or playing cards) and kills people off by winking at them. The victim waits for a count of five before dramatically dying or leaving the room. Meanwhile, the living are trying to find out who the murderer is before getting killed themselves.
2. I Have a Basket—One person starts of by saying “I have a basket, and in it I’m going to put [something starting with the letter A]” The next person in line thinks of something with the letter B and so on. You are out if you can’t think of something for your letter.
3. Change seats—There are many, many variants on this game, but the basic idea goes like this: Players are seated in a circle. One person is in the middle and calls something out to make the other players change seats. The player in the middle tries to get a seat at the same time. Whoever is left standing becomes the new Caller.
Traits: those wearing blue. Everyone wearing blue must get up and find a new seat.
Fruit basket: Everyone picks out a fruit and responds based on that fruit. (all the apples, citrus, yellow, or “upset the fruit basket” and everyone changes.)
4. Shadows—A sheet is hung at one end of the room, and light set up so that a shadow can be cast onto the sheet from behind. Guests walk past the sheet (disguising their identity) while the guesser on the other side tries to say who it is. If they guess right, the shadow person becomes the next guesser.
5. Lookabout—An object is chosen and shown to everyone. Then the guests leave the room while the object is hidden. When guests return, everyone looks for the object. When a guest finds it, he or she sits down and waits for the others to find it.

And don't forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of books by me, Colleen Nelson, and more! To enter, you need to know that my favorite number is 15. Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the  red team and you'll have all the secret codes to enter for the grand prize!

Guess what? The hunt doesn't end here! You get to keep going! The next author to visit is at

Saturday 24 September 2016

YA Scavenger Hunt

I'm excited to be part of YASH or Young Adult Scavenger Hunt. Thanks for Stephanie Ehmanns at @OhanaReads for telling me about it!

Check back at my blog on October 4th to continue the hunt! And if you're interested in winning two of my books, check out my website at Buried somewhere in the website (okay...twist my arm, it's on the About Me page), is a question. Tweet me the answer and enter to win your own copies of 'Finding Hope' and '250 Hours'. Good luck!

Monday 25 January 2016

Finding Hope

I am excited to announce that my fourth young adult novel, 'Finding Hope', will be released in the spring of 2016 with Dundurn Press.

About the book...

Hope leaves her small town for a fresh start, but her plans are derailed by an online romance and the appearance of her brother.

Hope lives in a small town with nothing to do and nowhere to go. With a drug addict for a brother, she focuses on the only thing that keeps her sane, writing poetry. To escape, she jumps at the chance to attend Ravenhurst Academy as a boarding student. She’ll even put up with the clique-ish Ravens if it means making a fresh start.

At first, Ravenhurst is better than Hope could have dreamed. She has a boyfriend and a cool roommate, and she might finally have found a place she can fit in. But can she trust her online boyfriend? And what can she do after her brother shows up at the school gates, desperate for help, and the Ravens turn on her? Trapped and unsure, Hope realizes that if she wants to save her brother, she has to save herself first.

Advance Copy Reviews

"Both heartbreaking and hopeful, this will be a popular choice among mature readers of realistic fiction."
-School Library Journal

"This raw novel pulls no punches..."
-Resource Links

"Finding Hope, so well titled as Eric searches for his sister and Hope tries to figure out who she is, would be an excellent choice for high school literature circles centered around addiction or bullying."
-Resource Links

Sunday 24 January 2016

The Fall

If only. 
Two words that’ll kill. Slowly.
But maybe, that’s what you deserve. 
When one teen dies in a tragic accident, the lives of three others are forever changed.  One turns to alcohol to escape his guilt.  Another looks to a gang to replace what he’s lost.  Ben must find the strength to break through a growing web of lies and convince everyone at school that he was not to blame.  But first he has to convince himself.
WINNER, McNally Robinson Book for Young People Award, 2014
FINALIST, Forest of Reading, White Pine Award 2013
SELECTION, Best Books for Kids and Teens, Fall 2013
“Nelson masterfully explores the ways in which boys cope with tragedy and grief … The novel is perfectly paced, and the seriousness of the issues such as abuse, bullying, and alcoholism are offset by lighter action scenes describing Ben’s skateboarding tricks. Covering ground seldom seen in YA literature, this novel is one that will generate discussion and is a necessary addition to any high school classroom shelf.” — Recommended Book, Canadian Children’s Book News
“The theme of how grief is handled by men and boys permeates this novel and makes it a must-read for teachers and older teens, both boys and girls.”
— Highly recommended, CM Magazine
The Fall possesses an admirable grittiness.” — Feature Review, Quill & Quire
“[Colleen Nelson] brings her careful sense of observation to bear on the development of her story and characters.” — Resource Links
“[Colleen Nelson] has a sharp ear for authentic dialogue … The dragons Ben faces are gangs, drugs and alcohol, but they are just as real and much more menacing than medieval monsters.  Teens will relate to many things in this novel.” — The Winnipeg Free Press
“[Colleen Nelson’s] practice listening to kids is evident in the book’s pages, where the teens’ exchanges with adults as well as their peers ring true” — CBC Manitoba Scene
“I found my emotions running wild while reading The Fall … this is a book that readers everywhere should experience. To see the impact of death, and to witness the strengths that people didn’t know they had until after tragedy strikes.” – Chapter by Chapter
Catch Colleen on Shaw TV here!

250 Hours

Jess and Sara Jean couldn’t be more different. He’s a loner with a criminal record; a Metis raised on the Reserve; the son of a residential school survivor. His time, when not spent with his mother and grandmother, is spent lighting fires to help him deal with the feelings he has over his father’s abandonment. She’s from nearby Edelburg, a small, conservative town. Abandoned by her mother, Sara Jean cares for her obese grandmother and writes to escape. She has been accepted to the University of Manitoba, but her obligation to her grandmother leaves her wondering what her future will hold: a life in Edelburg with her boyfriend and grandmother, or an adventure in a big city where she can escape her past and pursue her passion for writing.
When Jess is found guilty of arson after lighting an abandoned building on fire, he’s ordered to complete 250 hours of community service. His first assignment? Cleaning out Sara Jean’s neglected garage. Sorting through boxes left by her grandfather, they discover that the secrets keeping their communities apart are the very things that may well bring them together.

Reviews for '250 Hours'

"Nelson deftly touches upon issues relevant to Canadian society, such as the lingering damage done by the residential school system, the casual racism experienced by First Nations and Métis on a daily basis, substance abuse, and relationship dynamics."                                                                                              -Quill and Quire
"250 Hours is a novel that, for its accessibility and seamless narrative structure, holds a great deal of gains a perspective on the social, cultural, and economic forces that can divide Canadians. Nelson’s novel is light on its feet, nimble and brisk."                            -SPG Book Reviews

What inspired '250 Hours'?

The initial inspiration for 250 Hours came four years ago when a friend told me the last residential school in Canada closed in 1996. I thought they had closed long before and was curious as to why they remained open so long given the amount of controversy.
I started doing some research purely for personal interest and realized that residential schools were an aspect of Canadian history that needed more exposure. I had completed my second novel, The Fall, which dealt with adolescent grief, and I wanted to tackle another weighty issue with my next book. The legacy of the residential school system was something I wanted to explore.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Shortly after '250 Hours' was released, the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission were released. After countless interviews with survivors, the report described the use of residential schools are 'cultural genocide'. 

This is a dark, shameful part of Canadian history, but one that needs to be discussed and taught in schools.