Jacksonville Scavenger | Treasure Awaits
Are you looking for the ultimate way to explore Jacksonville? Introducing the largest Scavenger Hunt the city has ever seen. Will you be the first to solve all 346 clues?
Following my debut travel title "100 Things To Do In Jacksonville Before You Die", I was pleased to be invited to tackle a new title with my publisher Reedy Press. Reedy focuses on regional titles and works with local authors. When titles are popular they create a series out of them in major cities throughout the US and Canada. There are several cities in the "100 Things" series, and the newest to come out is the "Scavenger Series". This is the title I was invited to take on for Jacksonville. I do love a good challenge and this book seemed to have all the makings of a truly challenging task. Read on to learn how it all came together.
An Interview With Amy
Q: How did you come up with the idea?
A: I, in fact, did not come up with the idea. This title is part of a multi-city series by Reedy Press, as is my first book. Due to the success of my first title, I was invited to tackle a second. This series is brand new and I was on the second wave of cities included in the Scavenger series. I'm so pleased Jacksonville was included. It has so many treasures to discover.
Q: What was the hardest part of writing Jacksonville Scavenger?
A: There were so many challenges involved in completing Jacksonville Scavenger. I had of course solved scavenger hunts in the past, but I had never reverse-engineered one before. It helps that Reedy Press had a format established (although there were some varying evolutions of this as it was a new series and they were still adjusting the format based on user experience). Not all cities are created equal and Jacksonville is an exception in many ways, one being that it is so large. That might seem like an advantage, but much of Jacksonville is urban sprawl leaving much to be desired when it came to discovering historical markers, architecture, or public art. Ideally the neighborhoods featured in the book were meant to be walkable, but I ultimately discovered that was simply not always possible for the largest geographical city in the continental US.
Q: Were there any surprises?
A: Yes, several of the destinations I plotted out turned out to not be a good fit. The biggest surprise by far though was the significant amount of time it took to take all the pictures included in the book. You see a thumbnail-sized captcha-like photo, but I took full-size images of every destination in the book. There were 360 destinations to start with, some of them almost an hour away. It probably took me a full month to get to every destination and take a photo. I was not expecting to add that additional time onto my deadline.
Q: Had you written riddles before?
A: Other than a few poems I wrote in grade school, I can honestly say I had never written any kind of iambic pentameter or riddles. I really was a bit intimidated by taking this on but I have to say, it was refreshingly fun. The process of weaving clues or significant historical details into a riddle about a particular destination was so enjoyable and honestly, I would welcome the opportunity to write more rhyming stories.
Q: How was writing this book different than 100 Things?
A: It was significantly different. "100 Things To Do In Jacksonville Before You Die" was written in prose, while "Jacksonville Scavenger" was written in iambic pentameter. This was like switching from my left brain to my right brain. My first book focused on the most iconic destinations. This book holds more secret locations that are harder to find. For "Jacksonville Scavenger" I spent a lot of time on google maps plotting out destinations in neighborhoods all over Jacksonville. For 100 Things, I focused on categories like Food and Beverage and Arts and Entertainment vs actual geographic locations.
Q: How long did it take you to write?
A: All in all I would estimate around five months. I started out very slow plotting out all the neighborhoods I wanted to include, and from there added the destinations. Next, I went down the list of locations and started building the riddles. The last thing I did was take photos, and that was a major labor of love.
Q: How many locations are there?
A: There are 24 neighborhoods (some of them are partnered together into one neighborhood such as Neptune and Atlantic Beach). Over 340 locations are included in the hunt (originally 360).
Q: Did you go to every location?
A: I sure did. In a city as large as Jacksonville, that is quite the feat. On the upside, I can now consider myself a "Jaxpert" as I have scoured the entire city and been to every major neighborhood.
Q: How did you adapt the book for such a large city?
A: Ideally the destinations in the book needed to be longstanding places. As such you'll find a lot of green spaces, historical markers, and architectural icons. I did include some businesses, but mainly ones I thought would be around for a long time. The book was meant to be walkable but I had to give up on that in some neighborhoods such as the expansive Southside and Westside. In each neighborhood, you'll see at the top whether I noted it as drivable, walkable, or both.
Q: What might people not know about authors and writing a book?
A: One thing a lot of people don't realize is how involved authors are in the marketing of their books. We have to present a marketing plan immediately. This includes what media leads you'll pursue, what kind of events you plan to hold, and how you will engage with the public. We also write our own back copy, bios, and create our own marketing and bonus materials. I used a variety of outlets for this including Sticker Mule for my stickers, and promotional products.
Q: Is it true you relocated to Tampa before this book was released? A: Yes, due to my work with Home Shopping Network we made a sudden relocation to the Tampa area before the release of the book. Fortunately, I get back to Jacksonville frequently to promote both books and help manage our two airbnbs there.
Q: Will you be writing any titles based in your new hometown?
A: Reedy has some amazing local authors here in Tampa already doing great work. I don't have any immediate plans to publish titles on Tampa, but I wouldn't out rule it. For now, you can see some content on my new hometown in my journal and of course on Instagram.
Ideas on how to use the book
Q: Who is the book ideal for?
A: Calling all treasure hunters! Although there is no treasure of monetary value, the city itself is full of experiences you will treasure. Those seeking to explore their city, whether you're a native, or a newbie there's something here for you. Geocachers, trivia lovers, history buffs, newlyweds, families, youth groups, corporate groups, and urban explorers will all enjoy the secrets held in Jacksonville Scavenger.
Q: Is there a prize?
A: There certainly is! If you're the competitive type, be sure to join the Jacksonville Scavenger Challenge found here. The first hunter to complete all answers correctly wins the official trophy. All subsequent winners will get the official achievement medal.
Q: Can I do the challenge with a group?
A: Yes! Only one trophy will be provided. Additional achievement medals can be attained for a small upcharge.
Q: What if a place closes or goes out of business?
A: This is a very real possibility. Simply reach out to me here via my contact page, or stay connected through the Facebook group if you are part of the Challenge.
Q: Is there an answer key?
A; Currently, I am not authorized to provide an answer key. If you would like confirmation that your answers are correct, simply join the challenge and enter your answers in the quiz provided. I will grade them and give you your answer.
Q: Any expert tips on solving all the riddles?
A: Indeed! First I would go through and answer any that are obvious to you. Next, I would do some google sleuthing from your armchair. Finally, I would go have lunch or coffee in the neighborhoods challenging you and get to know them. Discover those hard-to-answer destinations for yourself! Once you do, you'll be an official Jax-pert like me! *Note that most destinations do not require you to enter them to solve them. You should be able to solve them from the exterior, thus eliminating any concerns regarding solving them after business hours.
Do you do media events, presentations, & signings?
Yes! I am available for book signings, book talks, media events, and pop-up market events. Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. I love getting out and meeting you all face to face.
Shop Local: Where to find my book in Jax
Ashes Boutique and Tea Room – Jacksonville Beach
Sweet Pete’s Candy Shop – Downtown Jacksonville
Chamblin Book Mine (both locations)
The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island Gift Shop
Omni Plantation Resort & Spa Gift Shop Marche’
Story & Song Bookstore and Bistro – Amelia Island
Anywhere books are sold my books are available to order. In many of these locations, you will find signed copies, but you can also purchase directly from me and I’ll ship you a signed copy with some bonus material.
I want to give special thanks to my publisher Reedy Press, who honored me for the second time by trusting me with another best-selling title. When I wrote my first book it felt like such an accomplishment. This second book is certainly also an accomplishment but it has additionally reinforced my sense of belonging in the author community making me feel established. I know now, it wasn't just a fluke. I am now an experienced author, and I'm so inspired to bring you more great books in the future. You can find additional books like this one on Reedy's website featuring a host of other cities in the states and beyond.
I am so grateful for all of you who have supported my books over the last few years. Without you, they would not be a success. If you are just getting to know me, and you're looking for great gifts, think local! I’m happy to personalize your books if you have a need.
Enjoy the journey!
XO - Amy West