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!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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:

Tuesday, August 5, 2014


It's release day for one of YA Guy's favorite debuts of 2014, THE ISLANDS AT THE END OF THE WORLD by Austin Aslan! I was lucky enough to read Austin's book in manuscript form, and it's a stunning work, full of mystery and adventure. I also had the pleasure of interviewing Austin; you can read it here.

So read my review below, and then, if you're as excited about this book as I am, follow the blog tour posted after the review. And, of course, pick up a copy of your very own!

Austin Aslan’s debut YA novel The Islands at the End of the World takes us to a place we think of as paradise--Hawaii--and turns it into a nightmare.

When sixteen-year-old Leilani (Lei) and her father travel from the Big Island of Hawaii to Oahu in search of a medical cure for her epilepsy, her world rapidly falls apart: meteor strikes herald the appearance of a celestial anomaly (dubbed the “Green Orchid”) that shuts down all electrical appliances, communications, and other technologies. Desperate to return home--and rapidly running out of the medication that keeps her condition in check--Lei and her father risk looters, a military crackdown, and nationalist forces eager to use the descent into chaos to restore indigenous rule of the islands. Meanwhile Lei keeps hearing echoes of the mythological past whenever she slips into a seizure. Could the Green Orchid be an emissary from the beyond, a voyager with a message just for her? And will she and her father survive long enough to unravel its mystery and begin to put their world back together again?

Aslan’s debut is intense and inventive, expertly fusing edge-of-your-seat action-adventure with a reflective, even mystical sensibility. Lei serves as the perfect vehicle to bring these two strands together, as she struggles to reconcile past and present, the world of modern science that promises a cure to her epilepsy with her grandfather’s world of powerful gods and ancestral spirits:

"My heart sighs as I listen to the rain. I’m only half Hawaiian, but I want to belong. I can feel the warmth of their akua--the Hawaiian gods and family guardians. When I’m hiking in the high forest with Dad, Kāne, the creator, is in the ohia trees, watching me. And Grandpa’s right: Pele speaks to me--not only when I’m visiting the glowing caldera of Kilauea volcano, but when I’m walking over her ropy black fields of lava, or surfing. I get light-headed and peaceful.

The island itself--it feels like home."

It’s intriguing that as modern society collapses, Lei’s identification with her Hawaiian heritage grows stronger; in powerful prose passages that depict her seizures through fractured sentences and yawning spaces on the page, Lei dreams herself into the old stories, becoming the “powerful, angry” goddess of the volcano, Pele. As she puts it: “My beautiful islands are changing forever. And so am I.” Aslan does an excellent job of capturing the voice of a teenage girl hungry to belong and slowly discovering the strength to fight for herself, her family, and her home.

Islands has a few rough spots: the narrative bogs down a bit in its middle section, when Lei and her father are stuck in a refugee camp, and there are moments where Aslan relies too heavily on dialogue to advance the action (a problem I suffer from myself, so I know whereof I speak). But these are minor issues. At once a thrilling story of survival, a touching tale of father-daughter bonding against impossible odds, and an eye-opening journey into the history and mythology of Hawaii, The Islands at the End of the World introduces a new and deeply original voice to the world of YA literature.

Blog tour schedule for The Islands at the End of the World:

August 12: literologie
August 13: 1) wordspelunking 2) imaginaryreads
August 14: mommyramblings
End of August: jenns bookshelves

Friday, August 1, 2014

YA Guy... Just Writes!

With the release of Survival Colony 9 less than two months away, pressures are building.

I've got a podcast interview scheduled for Monday. A Skype interview for later in August. Several blog interviews I have to write. Another several guest posts. Keeping my website updated about reviews and events. Inviting people to the launch party. Ordering food, decorations, and door prizes for the same. Making travel arrangements for a couple conferences where I'll be signing books. And so on.

Don't get me wrong. These are all nice pressures. I'd be a fool to complain about them. But they're pressures nonetheless.

And there are other pressures that go along with debuting that aren't so nice. Worrying about pre-sales. Checking Goodreads numbers and Amazon rankings. Wondering if and when my second book will sell.

These pressures are self-inflicted, of course. I don't have to check rankings or worry about numbers. But trust me, it's hard not to.

So today, I decided to take a break from all that stuff and do the one thing I most love about being a writer. Can you guess what it is?

That's right. I wrote.

I just wrote. I didn't open my browser until I'd finished a chapter of my current work-in-progress, the final installment in the YA science-fiction trilogy that begins with Survival Colony 9. (As it turns out, that was the book's final chapter, so I only need to add the epilogue and I'll have a complete draft.) I didn't worry about how well Survival Colony 9 might be doing in pre-sales, or how many cupcakes I have to order for the launch, or whether reviewers are going to like or hate my first book, or whether my editor is going to make an offer on my second. I just wrote.

All writers--and, perhaps, debut writers in particular--feel the pressure. Writing might seem like a carefree, glamorous life, but it involves lots of hard work and worry. Again, it's work and worry I'm more than willing to take on. But when you're stuck in the middle of it, it's easy to lose sight of what all the work and worry are for.

So my advice to writers? Every once in a while, just write.

Take my word for it. It'll do wonders.