Thursday, September 18, 2014

YA Guy Hosts... Kai Strand's KING OF BAD "Damaged Goods" Blog Tour!

Today, YA Guy Hosts Kai Strand's "Damaged Goods" giveaway for her novel KING OF BAD! I love the story behind this giveaway--and you're going to love KING OF BAD! So read on, and check out the Rafflecopter giveaway below!

Hey everybody, my name is Kai Strand. I was unpacking books at a signing and came across a copy of King of Bad with a torn cover. Bummer. I can’t sell that! But my loss is your gain. Because I can hold a giveaway instead!

Along with a slightly damaged copy of King of Bad, I’m also giving away several sets of character trading cards. These cards have been specially designed for book one in the series. There will be a separate set of cards designed for each book – so be among the first to own a set.

About the book:

Jeff Mean would rather set fires than follow rules or observe curfew. He wears his bad boy image like a favorite old hoodie; that is until he learns he has superpowers and is recruited by Super Villain Academy – where you learn to be good at being bad. In a school where one kid can evaporate all the water from your body and the girl you hang around with can perform psychic sex in your head, bad takes on a whole new meaning. Jeff wonders if he’s bad enough for SVA.

He may never find out. Classmates vilify him when he develops good manners. Then he’s kidnapped by those closest to him and left to wonder who is good and who is bad. His rescue is the climactic episode that balances good and evil in the super world. The catalyst – the girl he’s crushing on. A girlfriend and balancing the Supers is good, right? Or is it…bad?

Available in print or electronic: Whiskey Creek Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble 


Jeff admired the growth of the flames as they devoured wads of paper and fast food wrappers in the wire mesh trashcan. He slipped the book of matches into his pocket and sat back on his heels to admire his work. One side of the can merely smoldered so he blew gently to fan the guttering flame. It reminded him of how blowing on Jasmine’s neck the night before had resulted in a lovely arch of her back. He growled a throaty sigh, remembering Jasmine’s blissful distraction as he’d nibbled her earlobe.

“ Hey!”

Jeff glanced over his shoulder. A man, who looked like he belonged behind a desk in a downtown high rise, jogged toward him.

“ Ah, the sweet sounds of discipline.” Jeff stood, stuffed his fists in the front pockets of his jeans and shook the long bangs out of his eyes. He half expected the guy’s slick-soled business shoes to slip as he jogged across visitor parking. This was Jeff’s favorite part. Almost getting caught. When the guy was a baseball’s toss away, Jeff turned. He walked a couple steps then skipped up into a jog.

“ Kid, stop!”

Jeff chuckled to himself and said, “Yeah, sure,” and loped across the soccer field.

“ Wait a minute.”

Jeff stole a look over his shoulder. The guy was close even though he didn’t seem to be running very fast. Jeff grinned at him and increased his pace. A seven-foot tall chain link fence ringed in the far side of the field to prevent stray soccer balls from breaking the windows of passing cars on the street below. Jeff leaped onto the fence without slowing down and in two cat-like movements, launched himself over the top. He dropped to the ground, landing on a hill pocked with gopher holes, as easily as if he were jumping around in a bounce house. He smoothly transitioned back into a sprint and dashed across the street, startling a lady driving an SUV.

“ Kid, hold up.”

Jeff almost tripped; the guy was half way across the street already. He smirked, finally a decent chase, but not for long. With little effort, Jeff stepped up to a blurring speed. He dashed up a peaceful street that ran perpendicular to the school, where kids rode bikes and ran through sprinklers. Jeff recognized one of the “good” kids from school, washing a ’57 step-side Chevy.

“ Sweet ride,” Jeff called out. The kid looked up at him, but then snapped his head to the left. That guy cannot be that close! Jeff looked over his shoulder to find the guy was only a house length behind him. Holy crap, Batman. No one ever keeps up with me!

For the first time in a long time, Jeff worried. But only a little. With a deep, fortifying breath he pumped his thigh muscles harder. He whizzed past houses so fast he doubted anyone would be able to describe him if they were asked to later. Tears streamed sideways from the force of the wind his speed created. He’d only started to breathe a bit more heavily than normal. Jeff was built to run.

“ Kid, hold on just a second.”

Jeff stumbled, but regained his footing again before becoming road rash. The guy sounded as if he was only a bus length away. How can that be? No one runs as fast as I do. Jeff’s lungs constricted. An alien emotion, panic, budded in his chest. Stay focused. Controlled, deep breaths allowed calming oxygen into his lungs and up to his brain and Jeff’s airways opened fully again.

Real speed required concentration. Jeff concentrated on his thigh muscles. Usually he only bothered to think about the front muscles in order to ignite his unusual speed, but this time he thought about the sinewy, sleek muscles that wrapped gracefully around the larger front muscles. He envisioned how the smaller muscles provided strength and support to the larger working muscle. He pictured that strength extending into his gluteus maximus to sustain a strong stride. The resulting speed was completely inhuman.


I loved the world building! It made me wish I was part of it. Strand does a fantastic job of making the world of King of Bad seem like it's a real thing. -Heather

King of Bad sucks you in from the first page and doesn't let you go. I couldn't put it down! –Amazon Review

About the author:

When her children were young and the electricity winked out, Kai Strand gathered her family around the fireplace and they told stories, one sentence at a time. Her boys were rather fond of the ending, “And then everybody died. The end.” Now an award winning children’s author, Kai crafts fiction for kids and teens to provide an escape hatch from their reality. With a selection of novels for young adult and middle grade readers and short stories for the younger ones, Kai entertains children of all ages, and their adults. Learn more about Kai and her books on her website,

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Monday, September 15, 2014

YA Guy Hosts... Margo Kelly!

YA Guy's psyched to host Margo Kelly, author of the soon-to-be released WHO R U REALLY? (Official release date: 9/18.) Today on the blog, Margo shares the disturbing real-life events behind her chilling novel.

Margo Kelly’s Debut Who R U Really? was Ripped from a Real Life Event!

After her daughter narrowly survived a man she met in an online role-playing game, Kelly wrote a breathless young adult thriller with the hopes of helping others spot and unmask internet predators.

When a Nampa, Idaho, police detective said to Margo Kelly’s daughter, “It is your job to tell others—your real everyday friends that you go to school with—tell them what happened to you, so nothing like this can happen to them,” … she agreed. 

“My daughter is my hero,” Kelly said, “for being willing to share her personal choices, conversations, and feelings in order to help others, regardless of the negative judgment she might receive as a result.” Additionally, Kelly realized if she wrote a novel about her daughter’s experience, this could help more people avoid the traps of internet predators. Thus, while Who R U Really? is a work of fiction, the essence of the plot is what happened when Kelly’s daughter was nearly abducted. The fictional elements are based on what has happened to young women across the country on a too frequent basis.

“Inspired by her own daughter's terrifying story, Kelly has painted a realistic picture of how a smart girl can get caught up in something dangerous online,” said the School Library Journal. “Guaranteed to give readers goosebumps—particularly as events heat up toward the end.… A good choice for families to read together.”

Who R U Really? will be published in hardcover and e-book versions by Merit Press (F+W Media) on September 18, 2014.

More about Who R U Really?

When Thea discovers a new role-playing game online, she breaks her parents’ rules to play. And in the world of the game, Thea falls for an older boy named Kit whose smarts and savvy can’t defeat his near-suicidal despair. Soon, he’s texting her, asking her to meet him, and talking in vague ways about how they can be together forever. As much as she suspects that this is wrong, Thea is powerless to resist Kit’s allure, and hurtles toward the very fate her parents feared most. Who R U Really? will excite you and scare you, as Thea’s life spins out of control.

Enter to win the Goodreads giveaway

Buy online:

More about Margo Kelly

Margo Kelly is a native of the Northwest and currently resides in Idaho. A veteran public speaker, she is now actively pursuing her love of writing. Who R U Really? is her first novel. Margo welcomes the opportunities to speak to youth groups, library groups, and book clubs.

Follow her online:
Twitter: @MargoWKelly

Scheduled Appearances:
September 26, 2014 – 5pm – Book Signing at Hastings in Meridian, Idaho
September 27, 2014 – 4pm – Book Signing at Hastings on Overland in Boise, Idaho
October 3, 2014 – 7pm – Book Launch Party at Hyde Park Books in Boise, Idaho
October 11, 2014 – 4pm – Book Signing at Barnes & Noble in Boise, Idaho

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

YA Guy Hosts... The Darkly Delicious YA Back-to-School Giveaway!

Welcome to the Back to School Giveaway hosted by the authors at Darkly Delicious YA.

Add great YA titles to your to be read list on Goodreads and enter to win an Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card so that you can purchase novels from your favorite authors.

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Saturday, August 23, 2014

YA Guy Presents... The August "9 on 9" Feature!

It’s exactly ONE MONTH before Survival Colony 9 debuts! As you can imagine, YA Guy is excited, nervous, exhausted, overwhelmed: all those things everybody tells you you’ll be in the month leading up to your debut but no one believes until you’ve gone through it yourself!

For the final “9 on 9” feature before my book’s release, I thought I’d focus on mysteries. Survival Colony 9 is full of them, partly because my narrator, Querry Genn, has lost his memory, partly because so much knowledge from the old world has disappeared in the series of cataclysms that produced the world of the novel, and partly because people in Survival Colony 9 have a lot to hide! And that’s not even counting the Skaldi, whose ability to consume and mimic human hosts adds a whole new layer of mystery to the story! So read on—and to learn the answers to these mysteries, make sure you pick up a copy of the book!

  1. What lies in wait for Survival Colony 9 in the unexplored western desert?
  2. Why does Laman Genn decide to establish a permanent encampment?
  3. Why are Korah and her boyfriend Wali quarreling?
  4. Who’s behind the unrest in Survival Colony 9?
  5. What does Petra know about the Skaldi that she’s not telling Querry?
  6. What is Aleka planning without Laman’s knowledge?
  7. Which teenagers are on Querry’s side—and which aren’t?
  8. Is there a Skaldi hiding in Survival Colony 9—and if so, who?
  9. What vital information has Querry forgotten—and will he remember in time?

To be entered into a drawing for a signed copy of Survival Colony 9, just leave a comment below or contact me via my website, telling me which of these mysteries you can’t wait to find out the answer to. If you leave me your address, I’ll also send you some signed SC9 swag!

Thirty-one days and counting....

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

YA Guy Hosts... The Release Day Blitz for MY TETHERED SOUL by Dorothy Dreyer!

Today, YA Guy has the shivers (literally) as I participate in the release day blitz for Dorothy Dreyer's MY TETHERED SOUL, the follow-up to MY SISTER'S REAPER. Read the blurb and the creepy excerpt below, enter the giveaway--and most important, get yourself a copy of this thrilling and chilling book!


It’s been months since Zadie faced her sister’s Reaper, months during which she’s been under her mentor’s magical protection. But now that she’s turning seventeen, that protection is about to run out.

When dark forces lure Zadie to wander at night, she’s manipulated into committing unspeakable acts. With her friends and family at risk, Zadie must try to use her powers to break free from the Reaper’s grasp, or surrender to the Reaper’s Rite, which can only lead to death.


Once I reached the hall, all the blood drained from my head. I stumbled in the hallway and had to slap my hand against the wall to steady myself. Everything swayed back and forth before me. The lights dimmed then got brighter. Or was the headache merely traveling to my eyes?

I pushed myself forward and finally reached the bathroom. I had to pause at the door for a moment to get the room to stop swimming before me. The sink was just two feet away from me, but it felt like miles. Holding my fingers to my temples, I thrust myself forward to the sink. The cool porcelain felt great on my hot skin. But only for a moment. Maybe I really was coming down with something.

I turned the tap on and leaned down, hoping a splash of water on my face would do the trick. Closing my eyes, I filled my palms with cold water and then splashed my face with it, allowing the icy liquid to run down my cheeks to my chin. The floor moved under my feet, so I steadied myself by gripping the counter.

You’re fine, Zadie. Get ahold of yourself.

I straightened up to check myself in the mirror. The eyes looking back at me were black.

That couldn’t be, could it?

Then my reflection smirked at me.

Intrigued? Here's where to find MY TETHERED SOUL and MY SISTER'S REAPER:

My Tethered Soul (Reaper’s Rite 2)

Barnes and Noble:
Book Depository:

My Sister’s Reaper (Reaper’s Rite 1)

Book Depository:
Barnes and Noble:

And to catch up with Dorothy, try these author links:

Author Website:
Facebook Fanpage:

Last but not least... the giveaway!

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Saturday, August 16, 2014

YA Guy Participates in... The Work in Progress #WIP Blog Tour!

YA Guy's been tagged by the prolific YA/NA author Carol Oates for the #WIP Blog Tour. Here's how it works:

Provide the link back to the post by the person who nominated you. Write a little about and give the first sentences of the first three chapters of your current WIP, then nominate four other writers to do the same.

Here's the link to Carol's post, where you can read about her three current works in progress. My hat's off to you, Carol!

In my own case, I've recently completed the (very!) rough draft of the final book in a planned three-book series that begins with Survival Colony 9. Book Two in the series, Scavenger of Souls, is in the hands of my editor. Book Three, Skaldi City, is in my own hands, and there's lots to do before it'll be ready to show anyone else.

As I've probably told you, I'm pretty much a pure pantser: I just sit down and write, with very little if any planning beforehand. That method generates considerable creativity, but it also produces supremely messy drafts. In the case of Skaldi City, I was planning to write a 75,000-80,000 word draft, but after months of struggle, I just plowed ahead and let it come in at a skimpy 67,000. So obviously, much of my revising will involve fleshing it out, deepening scenes and character relationships and world-building and so forth.

But this being the final book in the series, I also struggled to resolve everything in a logical and satisfactory way. There was much I needed to resolve--my narrator Querry Genn's family history, several romantic relationships I left hanging in Book Two, and (not least) the fate of the world--so wrapping it all up is no insignificant task! already have several pages of revision notes, and having looked the draft over, I've discovered certain embryonic ideas lurking there that I'll have to draw to the surface. I'm not concerned about the revision process; I just know it'll take time, and I'm hopeful I'll have it done by year's end.

And so, having provided you with A Portrait of the Pantser as a (not very) Young Man, I offer for your enlightenment the first sentences of the first three chapters of Skaldi City. Not sure these will make any sense out of context, but here goes!

In the darkness of my cell, a woman’s face floated before me.

Korah. A girl I'd known back home. A girl I'd loved.

The thing that looked like my half-brother approached the circle of Skaldi, which fell away to let him through.

I hereby nominate the following writers to follow me:

Jaye Robin Brown

Lisa Maxwell

Kat Ross

Sarah J. Schmitt

Take it away, gang!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

YA Guy Presents... YA! for Nature with Sherri L. Smith, author of ORLEANS!

One of YA Guy's favorite YA science fiction novels of the past, well, forever is Sherri L. Smith's ORLEANS. (Here's my review, in case you missed it.) Today, I had the good fortune to interview Sherri for my occasional series, YA! for Nature. Here's what Sherri and I talked about:

YA Guy: Welcome to the blog, Sherri!

Sherri L. Smith: Hi YA Guy. Thanks for having me!

My pleasure. Please tell us about your book ORLEANS.

SLS: ORLEANS is set in a post-disaster New Orleans where a series of manmade and natural catastrophes have given rise to Delta Fever, a disease so deadly that the U.S. Government builds a quarantine wall from Florida to Texas and disavows that part of the country. Fifty years later, the survivors in the former city of New Orleans have gone tribal based on blood type—the last rules laid down by the CDC to stem the disease. Against this backdrop, the heroine Fen is tasked with saving the life of her tribal leader’s newborn baby after their tribe is destroyed. On the other side of the quarantine Wall, a young scientist named Daniel follows the smuggler paths into Orleans in his search for a cure to Delta Fever. Their paths cross and well, I guess you have to read the book to find out what happens next.

YAG: I know from your dedication and acknowledgments that you have a very personal connection to New Orleans and to the events that occurred when Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005. Can you tell us more about that connection and how it shaped your novel?

SLS: My mother was born and raised in New Orleans. She moved up north and met my father, but in later years, she returned to the city to take care of my grandparents until they passed. She was still living in the city when Katrina hit. Faced with the option of sitting in a car in traffic during the storm or weathering it in the 100-year-old house she’d grown up in, she opted to stay. Her house was damaged, but she would have been fine if the levees hadn’t broken and the city hadn’t shut down. There she was, a diabetic running out of insulin and drinking water in a city that had been quarantined against help. The Red Cross was not allowed in to offer aid under some misguided belief that people would be forced to leave. My mom tried to drive out of the city after the storm, but her truck was caught in flood waters and she had to be rescued by someone in a passing swamp boat. All told, it took my family a week of frantic phone calls and crazy plans to drive to the rescue (if only the few open roads were not patrolled by gun-toting law enforcement). At last, the Coast Guard, of all organizations, came to the rescue and got her out of the city and onto an airplane out of Louisiana.

Needless to say, it was a harrowing time.

In the aftermath of the disaster, Fen spoke to me, and Orleans was born. This book is my response to the tragedy of Katrina all along the southern coast. To the conversations about racism and rescue that took place as we watched the city drown. To the stories of gang members turning into protectors and law enforcement going rogue. I tried to remove race as an issue in Orleans and make it about blood type—something that you cannot see. Above all, I want people to remember New Orleans and Mississippi and all of the places forever changed by a single storm.

YAG: Of the two narrators in ORLEANS—a third-person narrator affiliated with the character Daniel, and a first-person narrator representing the perspective of the character Fen—I was most drawn to Fen’s voice and vision. Where did the character of Fen come from? Why did you decide to speak in her distinctive voice?

SLS: As I said above, Fen literally spoke to me. I was driving home from work one day in the weeks after my mom had been safely brought to California, and I heard a voice say “O-Neg Davis, he beautiful.” I had no idea what that was about, but I called my voicemail and left it in a message. And that turned into the powwow scene with Fen’s O Positive tribe and the O-Negs led by handsome Davis with his agate green eyes. Her voice was so natural to the story that I kept it. New Orleans is such a stew of cultures, it made sense that the natural language would be a patois of some sort. So there is “speaking tribe,” which is the voice Fen thinks in, and then there is “proper English,” which is used by the educated, the leaders and scientists.

YAG: Late in the novel, one of the characters—a scientist who lives the life of a hermit—states: “Nature knows what to do with a poison. She dilutes it.” There are so many ways to read these lines, but given your novel’s representation of human society, one of the things they suggest is that human beings are the “poison” that Nature needs to “dilute.” What’s your feeling about this? How do you read these lines?

SLS: That’s an interesting way of looking at it. I certainly do think that humans, along with all other life forms, are as much a boon as a burden to the planet, and Nature has its ways of culling the herd—such as disease, and our own solution, war. It’s like homeopathic medicine—there is the tipping point at which the poison is too weak to kill, but can help you build an immunity. In the case of the character in the book, he is talking about Nature’s ability to recover even after a major disaster—the oil spill from the Deep Water Horizon will have repercussions for decades, but the ocean will survive. One of the reasons it was dangerous to eat seafood in the aftermath of the oil spill was because the shellfish and bottom feeders sift through the water and act as filters. It might make them inedible, and lead to illness in both the shellfish and the creatures that eat them, but eventually the water will be filtered clean and new shellfish will be born and life will continue. That’s what is happening in the Orleans of the book, but it’s hard to take that long view when your life could end the next day.

YAG: Some readers and reviewers have termed ORLEANS a cli-fi novel. What do you think about this emerging genre of fiction?

SLS: Climate has always been a topic in speculative fiction, so I don’t know that the genre is new so much as the classification is becoming more popular now. I think it’s great if it gets people to look at books they might have missed. That said, the climate is the backdrop for ORLEANS, rather than the point of the story. So, if you are looking for eco-lit, maybe you’ll find this title, which is great—and then the characters and the drama will carry you to the final page.

YAG: Last question. You and I are fiction writers, not politicians or pundits. What’s the role, if any, of fiction in calling attention to environmental issues and problems?

SLS: Hmm. I think the job of writers, particularly speculative fiction writers, is to ask interesting questions. Like Mary Shelley—is it okay for man to create artificial life like Frankenstein did? What are the responsibilities of such actions? For Orleans—are we willing to abandon part or our nation to its own devices (which is very much what it felt like during Katrina)? If so, what are the consequences? What happens next? It’s true that writers are not politicians or pundits, but we are citizens of the world, and students of human nature. There is a reason writers become political prisoners in some societies. We ask questions. If we’re lucky, someone reads the book, thinks about it, and answers start to follow.

YAG: Thanks for being on the blog, Sherri! Readers, if you want to learn more about Sherri Smith and her writing, here’s where to go: