I really love solving a good mystery. I have never passed up a good puzzle, scavenger hunt, or trivia contest. My friends from high school can tell you, I was cutthroat at Trivial Pursuit. This could all be why I went back to school for a forensic criminology degree. I have a need to solve things.
I bring this up because I also love to create puzzles for people. My very first job working for someone else (I had my own cleaning business before this but I worked for myself) was as an artist for a local sports magazine. I got to create the kid's fun page. I made dot-to-dot pictures, crossword puzzles, trivia questions, and more. It was so much fun to do so I thought I would bring that back into my books.
I had this idea as I was writing the next to the last chapter of Into the West: Sharon Springs. I just have one more short chapter to finish tonight and I'm done with this book, I think. My current beta reader is giving it a once over to make sure it doesn't feel like it ends too abruptly. If it does feel like that to my beta reader then there might need to be an extra chapter to round it all out a bit better. We'll see.
Anyway, the idea I had was to hide a contest somewhere in my books. Readers will need to find the contest information in the extra bits, the Acknowledgements, About the Author, Coming Soon, Copyright information, etc. in the book. It will tell you where to look on my webpage, www.stephenburckhardt.com, for a hidden link that will take you to a secret page on the website. You will have to read the book the contest is in and answer a trivia question to get the password to open the secret page once you've found it.
When you open the page you will find the first chapter of the next book as your prize. I might add in a few more freebies later depending on how this goes over. The more people who are interested and play along the more I'm likely to give away better stuff.
I've already had a lot of fun setting up the hidden link on my website and building the secret page. I hope you'll all play along and we can have a great time with this.
For now though, I promised another sneak peek for today and here it is.
Into the West: Sharon Springs
Tim reached out and put his hand over Stacy’s. She closed her eyes and bowed her head a bit, as if the weight of the conversation was pressing on her.
“You and Timothy have such a bond. You are thick as thieves and I’m thankful you have that but it makes me feel like an outsider in this family, like a visitor in my own home.”
Stacy jerked her head up and looked at Tim in surprise at hearing his confession. She tried to pull her hands back but Tim gently held them in place. He reached out with his other hand to cup her hands between his as he continued.
“Don’t misunderstand me; I am not angry about that. I understand that what you went through together bonded you closer than anyone could ever imagine. I envy you that.”
Stacy relaxed a bit and allowed Tim to hold her hands on the table. The couple sat like that for several minutes before Tim continued.
“Believe it or not, I know what your fear is. You don’t want to bring any more children into our family because it just gives us someone else we could lose and that thought is worse than anything else you could possibly imagine,” said Tim in a quiet voice as he began to stroke Stacy’s hand with is thumb.
Stacy bowed her head again as tears began to slide down her cheeks. She made no noise. She just sat still with her head down as she listened.
“I need to do this, Stacy. I can’t be the odd man out in my own family the rest of my life. I need someone who needs me too like Timothy needs you.”
Tim had pled his case. Now he waited to hear how his wife felt about it all.
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