Tuesday, November 12, 2019

YA Guy... Celebrates a New Sale!

Earlier this month, the sale of YA Guy's new novel, SCARRED CITY, was announced. Here's the notice from Publishers Marketplace:

And here's the book's full blurb:

The end of the world. The beginning of love.

Michelle Simmons watched the yellow fire rain from the sky on her seventeenth birthday. Cut off from home, she’s lost in the desolation that remains.

When Michelle is discovered by other survivors under the command of Jason, a ruthless leader with a mysterious past, she fears she may never be freed to search for her missing family. And when a video surfaces showing nightmarish creatures with the ability to mimic human beings, Michelle is sure the end has come.

But then Kareem, a teenage boy, arrives in Jason’s camp claiming to have lost all memory except one: there is a city nearby, a city that holds the secret to the attacks that laid the world low. He can take Michelle there, if she’s willing to risk leaving Jason’s camp behind.

What Michelle doesn’t know is that there are other, more sinister secrets hiding in the scarred city. And that Kareem might not be what he claims to be.

To celebrate this auspicious occasion, I decided to give some books away! Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below for a chance to win one of three sets of the two Survival Colony novels:

The giveaway (U.S. only) runs for the next week.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck, and thanks for following YA Guy!

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

YA Guy Reveals... The Cover to the Final Book in the Ecosystem Cycle!

YA Guy's initial conception for the Ecosystem series was to wrap it up in three books. But Book 3 didn't quite conclude the series to my satisfaction, so I decided to add a fourth and final installment (thus transforming the series into a "cycle" instead of a mere "trilogy"). Titled The Last Sensor, it's due to come out early next year (by my birthday, February 5, if I can swing it).

Today, though, I'm ready to reveal the cover, which is (if possible) my favorite in the entire series.

Pretty cool, huh? Here's the blurb:

Fifteen years ago, war nearly destroyed the City of the Queens. In the time since, Queen Rebecca’s reign has been marked by reconciliation between the Ecosystem and its people. With the aid of Chief Sensor Miriam and her husband Isaac, an era of peace and prosperity seems to have been assured at last.

But then a new and unparalleled threat arises: the Ecosystem itself is dying, and Rebecca is powerless to restore it. Joining the Queen’s guard in their search for a cure to this mysterious malady is teenage apprentice Hadassah, daughter of Miriam and Isaac. For her, the quest is deeply personal: she seeks word of her friend and guardian Sarah, the former queen of the city who has been missing for years. Hadassah’s journey will take her to the ends of the earth, to a place of legendary wonder, beauty, and danger. And it will require her to tap a source of power even the queens have never imagined if she is to save her family and heal her world.

So enjoy the cover, and let me know what you think! I'm really excited to bring this series to a close; it's been near and dear to my heart for many years, and I hope readers will be as pleased as I am with the places the final book takes them!

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

YA Guy Participates in .... The Fall 2019 YA Scavenger Hunt!

YA Guy loves Fall, and YA Guy especially loves the Fall YA Scavenger Hunt!

As you can probably tell by all the blue lettering in this post (not to mention the banner at the top), I'm on the BLUE TEAM this year, along with the other awesome authors you see below:

The YA Scavenger Hunt is a bi-annual event 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! Add up the clues on each BLUE TEAM page, and you can enter for our prize--one lucky winner will receive one signed book from each author on our team! There are four contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! But don't delay: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will be online only until noon Pacific time on SUNDAY, OCTOBER 6! (I'm also running a personal giveaway during the same period of time.)


Directions: In the author biography below, you'll notice I've listed my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the Blue 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 follow this link and fill out the form to 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 Sunday, October 6, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered. For more information, follow this link to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.

Personal Giveaway: In addition to the prizes named above, readers who enter my personal giveaway will have a chance to win a signed copy of the three books in the Ecosystem series! Like the Hunt itself, the personal giveaway is open internationally. See below on how to enter!

Got all that? Then let's meet the author I'm hosting, C. Lee McKenzie!

C. Lee McKenzie loves to write for young readers. Mostly she writes contemporary/realistic Young Adult novels, but when she writes Middle Grade, they’re all about fantasy and adventure.

Sliding on the Edge, The Princess of Las Pulgas, Double Negative, and Sudden Secrets are four of her published YA novels. Her next YA book, Not Guilty, will soon be released by Evernight Teen. She has an MG trilogy: Alligators Overhead, The Great Time Lock Disaster, and Some Very Messy Medieval Magic. She also has a stand alone MG called Sign of the Green Dragon. Add them all up, and though it's not quite 22 novels, it's pretty close!

To find out more about the author, follow this link to her website or visit her favorite social media hangouts:

Twitter: @cleemckenzie
FB: https://www.facebook.com/cleemckenzie

About DOUBLE NEGATIVE: "My life was going, going, gone, and I hadn't been laid yet. I couldn't go into the slammer before that happened." —Hutch McQueen.

Sixteen-year-old Hutchinson McQueen is a big time loser. Trapped in a dysfunctional family, his one thought is escape, but everything he does to get away lands him in trouble.

Shackled by poor reading skills, he squeaks through classes with his talent for eavesdropping and memorizing what he hears. When he shoplifts and lands in juvenile detention, the court sentences him to a county youth program. There he meets the priest and Maggie, a retired teacher. They’re determined to set Hutch on a path leading away from trouble. Hutch is determined not to cooperate.

It isn’t until he’s facing serious charges that he confronts the truth—his own bad choices are trapping him. When he's offered the freedom he craves, all he has to do is take it.

To buy the book, follow this link!

But wait, there's more! I'm also running a personal giveaway, in which one reader will win a signed copy of the three books in the Ecosystem series: ECOSYSTEMTHE DEVOURING LAND, and HOUSE of EARTH, HOUSE of STONE!

On a future Earth, Nature has evolved into a planet-wide predator, and only those with the psychic power known as the Sense can survive. When seventeen-year-old Sarah sets out into the Ecosystem on a mission of vengeance, she must face the Ecosystem's deadliest creatures and travel to its most terrifying places. And she must decide whether to save the boy she loves at the cost of losing everything else she holds dear.

You can enter my personal giveaway by using the Rafflecopter form below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Fall 2019 Hunt is over, but there are still a few hours to enter my personal giveaway. I'll announce the winner soon!

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

YA Guy Hosts...Jim and Stephanie Kroepfl, Authors of MERGED!

Today is launch day for Jim and Stephanie Kroepfl's debut YA science fiction novel MERGED, and YA Guy wanted to get in on the action! Here's a guest post from Jim and Stephanie about their book's main characters. For more info on the authors, look below!

Getting to Know the Main Characters in MERGED

What MERGED is about: Seven of our country’s most gifted teens will become Nobels, hosts for the implantation of brilliant Mentor minds in an effort to accelerate human progress. But as the line between what’s possible and what’s right draws ever blurrier, the teens discover everything has a cost. Scientists have created an evolved form of living known as Merged Consciousness. Sixteen-year-old Lake, the Nobel for Chemistry, and Orfyn, the Nobel for Art, are two from among the inaugural class of Nobels, and with the best of intentions. But when Stryker, the Nobel for Peace, makes them question the motivation of the scientists behind the program, their world begins to unravel. The Nobels work to uncover the program’s dark secrets, and they realize no one can be trusted, not even the other Nobels. As the Mentors begin to take over their bodies and minds, Lake and Orfyn must find a way to regain control before they lose all semblance or memory of their former selves.

Sixteen-year-old Orfyn is an orphaned street artist who has a large following. He’s known for taking famous paintings and altering them, like portraying the apostles in da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” in New York Rangers jerseys. He dreams of one day having his paintings displayed in museums and art galleries, but he can’t imagine how that will ever happen. He’s one of those guys who doesn’t try to be cool, he just is.

Lake, also sixteen, is a chemistry prodigy. Lake planned to graduate early and use her full-ride scholarship until her beloved Grandma Bee is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Lake volunteers to become her caretaker, although she can’t help but wonder what she could have accomplished. She’s analytical and likes orderliness. To relax, she recites the elements of the Periodic Table.

Stryker had a privileged upbringing, so his goal to rid the world of gun-related violence seems like an odd choice. Also, he refuses to talk about his past. As a natural leader, he assumes this role for the inaugural class at the secret laboratory complex.

Bartholomew “Bat” Wakowski is Orfyn’s Mentor. He sees life with the innocence of a child, and prefers wearing his mother’s ratty pink bathrobe over faded rock concert T-shirts. Bat has an art collection that rivals most galleries, and he loves sharing obscure facts about paintings. And he’s dying.

Sophie Weiss is Lake’s Mentor. She’s one of the most distinguished neurologists in the world, so one would think she’d be aware of the dangers of smoking. She’s constantly warning Lake not to become attached to the octopuses because they’re not exactly pets. And Sophie is dying.

To buy MERGED:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Merged-Jim-Kroepfl/dp/1948671344
Other links: http://www.jimandstephbooks.com/book/merged/

About the authors: Jim and Stephanie Kroepfl are a husband-and-wife team who write novels and stories of mystery and adventure from their rustic cabin in the Rocky Mountains. They regularly speak at writers' conferences, literature conferences, universities and high schools to help others achieve their writing dreams. To find out more about Jim and Stephanie, visit them at www.jimandstephbooks.com.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

YA Guy Reads... Classic Plague Novels!

YA Guy will admit that the title to this post is perhaps the weirdest I've ever written. But as I'm sure I've mentioned, I'm not only a YA writer; I also have a doctorate in American literature and teach at the university level. What this means is that I read a lot of non-YA literature, and sometimes, I find that it dovetails with the YA I read (and write).

That seems to be the case now, though I'm not sure exactly how or why I started reading the genre I'm currently reading: classic novels about plague. Plague novels are super-popular right now, in both YA and non-YA: we have zombie plagues, hot zone plagues, superbug plagues, and so on and so forth. No doubt this plague craze has to do not only with actual medical threats but with generalized anxiety about the state of the world.

And I suppose, though I've never written (and have no plan to write) a novel specifically about plague, all of my novels are similar to plague novels in that they're about people surviving against hostile environments: the desert-plus-monsters environment of the Survival Colony novels, the sentient, predatory Nature of the Ecosystem trilogy, the threatening exoplanet of Freefall. Come to think of it, the draft novel I just completed does feature a disease as one key plot element. So when I started reading plague novels, maybe I was preparing for my own next book.

Anyway, here are the top three classic plague novels I've read, in order of the date of publication. I wish I could say "enjoy," but like all books of this sort, these three are pretty grim.

Daniel Defoe, A Journal of the Plague Year (1722). Written by the author of Robinson Crusoe, this is a fictionalized account of the 1665 plague in London that killed nearly 100,000 people. Defoe's book relies on archival research, testimony from survivors, and other sources, but its narrator is pure invention, as are some of the incidents. That makes it an early example of experimental, hybrid fiction (or creative nonfiction). Coincidentally, the novel I wrote my senior year in college was titled after Defoe's work, which I'd heard of but hadn't read as of then.

Mary Shelley, The Last Man (1826). Almost one hundred and fifty years before Richard Matheson's 1954 I Am Legend, Shelley wrote this novel of a worldwide plague that leaves no one but the narrator alive. Shelley's Frankenstein (1818) is sometimes considered the first science fiction novel, and you could call this book the first post-apocalyptic novel (unless you think of the Book of Revelation that way). It's nowhere near as influential as Frankenstein--and, truth be told, it's nowhere near as well written, with the first 100 pages in particular being full of turgid prose and Romantic excess--but it's still quite an accomplishment.

Albert Camus, The Plague (1947). Originally published as La Peste, this novel tells the tale of plague descending on a twentieth-century city in French Algeria. Narrated by one of the town's doctors--who avoids death himself but loses his wife, ironically, from an unrelated illness she's escaped the city to cure--the book can be seen as an allegory of the German occupation of France or, more generally, as a work of existential philosophy, with the plague standing for the human condition of inevitable death and capricious fate. Either way, it's beautifully written, focusing much more on people's diverse reactions to the pestilence than to the graphic details of plague itself.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

YA Guy Reviews... NELIEM by Clare Di Liscia and WASTED PRETTY by Jamie Beth Cohen!

YA Guy has a confession: I haven’t read much YA this year. There are lots of reasons for that, starting with the fact that I’ve been catching up on some literature I want to teach (and alas, I don’t have the opportunity to teach YA). But since I am YA Guy, I did read two really great debuts/new releases that I want to recommend. Both are similar in being the stories of young women growing to maturity during difficult times, though one is cast in the fantasy mode and the other in contemporary realism.

The first is Neliem, a YA fantasy by debut author Clare Di Liscia. This action/romance is very much in the “kick-butt heroine” vein, which I don’t always enjoy; at times, I feel that the character of the strong, capable, physically active YA heroine has become a mere reflex on the author’s part without context or nuance. Happily, that’s not the case with Neliem, which offers a fully realized, flesh-and-blood main character who kicks her share of butt while remaining complex and convincing.

The narrator and protagonist of Neliem is Oriana, a teenage girl living in squalid poverty on an island nation that’s fallen under the control of the mainland conquerors her people name Untouchables. Her prospects are bleak; many of her fellow islanders have died of the plague that almost took her, and those who survive eke out an existence of penury, servitude, and near-starvation. Oriana draws strength by imagining herself as the legendary hero Neliem, a savior of the poor and unprotected. But when Ezra, an Untouchable boy possessed of all the wealth and power Oriana can only dream of, unexpectedly chooses her as his bride in a coercive ceremony she has little choice but to obey, she’s whisked away to an alien world and forced to live in the household of a husband she can’t trust. Whether she can become the hero she longs to be drives the action of this novel, as Oriana uncovers the truth of the Untouchable culture and of the boy who claims to love her.

I won’t give away whether Ezra truly loves Oriana, but I will give away that I did. She’s a remarkable character, fiercely drawn and richly layered, provided with a credible personal and social history that makes her thoughts, feelings, and actions utterly believable. She can be scared and overwhelmed one minute, risk-taking and bold the next—but she’s never, from first page to last, anything less than fully real. The world she inhabits took me a bit longer to settle into, probably because Di Liscia doesn’t rush the world-building but lets the details emerge gradually. This approach makes sense, inasmuch as we’re discovering the world through the relatively inexperienced Oriana’s eyes, learning it as she does. The result is a fascinating plunge into an alternative reality that feels both fantastic and familiar, which is what the best fantasy novels achieve.

From YA fantasy, I turn to YA contemporary realism with Jamie Beth Cohen’s debut novel Wasted Pretty. I’ll admit I was sold on this book from the first page, which opens on a summertime film screening at Flagstaff Hill in Pittsburgh’s Schenley Park, circa 1992. Yes, these screenings are real—they’ve been going on for years, and in fact my first date with my wife was at one such event! So as a lifelong Pittsburgh resident, I had an immediate connection to the world Cohen recreates.

That wouldn’t have been enough to hold my interest, though, if the main character's story weren’t equally strong. Cohen’s narrator is sixteen-year-old Alice Burton, daughter of a radio DJ and a mother who’s developed a line of health foods (and tested them on her daughter, enabling Alice to shed pounds and show the world a newly curvy body). That’s good in one respect—it attracts the attention of college student and aspiring grunge rocker Chris Thompson—but it also garners the unwanted advances of professional baseball player and family friend Karl Bell. An act of sexual assault traumatizes Alice just as other parts of her life seem to be falling apart as well: her dad’s gambling addiction is preventing him from keeping up with tuition payments to her private high school, her relationship with her best friend is feeling the strain of boyfriends and beer bashes, and the enigmatic Chris Thompson clearly likes her but won’t fully commit to her. Spanning a turbulent summer, Wasted Pretty paints an unsparing portrait of a young woman coming to terms with who she is and what she wants from life.

The disturbing scene in which Karl Bell assaults Alice is the novel’s centerpiece, with everything else connected to it in some way. But there’s no shortage of marvelously realized scenes to choose from in this novel (perhaps my favorite being the nicely understated scene in which Alice and her father overcome their estrangement to share a meal at the neighborhood Friendly’s). Cohen gets the local and period details right, delving into the music groups, hair and clothing styles, and high school party culture of the day; she also gets the interior details right, with Alice’s pain, confusion, hopes, and anger coming through with perfect timing and clarity. The butterfly on the book’s cover becomes a multilayered symbol for the transformation Alice undergoes, with all its struggles, possibilities, and triumphs intact.

You don’t need to know Pittsburgh to love Wasted Pretty. You just need to know someone like Alice—and we all do.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

YA Guy Shares... Artwork from HOUSE OF EARTH, HOUSE OF STONE!

If you've read HOUSE OF EARTH, HOUSE OF STONE, the final novel in YA Guy's Ecosystem Trilogy, you know that there's an illustration at the end representing the family tree of the Queens who are featured in the trilogy. The artist, Jessica Khoury of Lizard Ink Maps, produced the stunning line drawing, and I couldn't be more thrilled with the results.

Or, then again, maybe I could--because as a special favor, she produced a mind-blowing full-color version of the illustration, using a technique that simulates the look of stained glass. Here it is in all its glory!

Nice, huh?

This is, by the way, one of the pleasures of self-publishing; though I enjoy publishing books the traditional way as well, it's unlikely I could have convinced a publisher to include an extra illustration in my book. With self-publishing, it's all up to me!

Enjoy the artwork, and let me know what you think!