Thursday, December 31, 2015

YA Guy Lists... His 2015 Top 10! (Plus a Giveaway!)

YA Guy read far fewer YA (and MG) books this year than the past several years, for two main reasons. First, I decided to read in other genres, including classic science fiction (THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES, A PRINCESS OF MARS, CHILDHOOD'S END), classic novels I've always wanted to read (INVISIBLE MAN, A TALE OF TWO CITIES), contemporary bestsellers (THE MARTIAN, ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE), historical fiction (THE GOOD LORD BIRD, THE INVENTION OF WINGS, SARAH'S KEY), and more. I even read, at my mother's suggestion, Wendy Wax's THE ACCIDENTAL BESTSELLER, a contemporary "women's novel." (I liked it.) These books take a lot longer to read than YA and MG, so that slowed me down too. In the end, I read about 25 YA/MG novels, most but not all of them 2015 publications (and many of them debuts).

I enjoyed reading almost all of these books, in all of these genres, but I'm going to limit my year-end Top 10 list to YA and MG. (I am YA Guy, after all.) The following list is in the order I read these books; it's not a ranking. Fuller reviews of most of these books are available on Amazon (I don't do Goodreads anymore). After reading about these great books, you can enter a giveaway to win two of them (plus a third that didn't quite make the cut).

1. PRISONER 88 by Leah Pileggi. A brilliant middle grade historical novel about a young boy incarcerated in the Idaho state penitentiary. Based on archival materials, this novel does an excellent job of portraying the time period, as well as the main character's perspective as he deals with life among hardened adult criminals. And the book is brief, only about 150 pages long, so you can read it almost like a short story in a single sitting.

2. THE PREY by Tom Isbell. A rousing YA adventure story set in a dystopian world where the rich hunt the poor for sport. The details are gruesome, but the characters are appealing and the narrative barrels forward at a great pace. The first in a trilogy, the second installment of which comes out in 2016.

3. UTOPIA, IOWA by Brian Yansky. An oddball YA story about a mythical town in Iowa where people commune with the dead and other bizarre happenings are everyday occurrences, this book deserves a far wider readership than it's gotten so far. There are some problems--in particular, a rushed and confusing ending--but the story as a whole weaves a magical spell unlike anything else I've read.

4. BLUE GOLD by Elizabeth Stewart. The story of three girls in different nations whose lives are connected by the mineral coltan, a key element in electronics such as cell phones, this issue-driven YA is straightforward and unsparing but never heavy-handed or preachy.

5. IT'S A WONDERFUL DEATH by Sarah J. Schmitt. A hilarious and poignant romp through the afterlife, as stuck-up cheerleader RJ tries to atone for past sins and gain a second chance at life. Very few books actually make you both laugh and cry (often at the same time); this one will.

6. ZEROBOXER by Fonda Lee. An exciting and introspective YA action/science fiction novel about a young champion in the futuristic sport of "zeroboxing," which involves boxing (actually more like mixed martial arts) in zero gravity. Great world-building and storytelling, plus some amazing fight sequences.

7. CONVICTION by Kelly Loy Gilbert. A story of losing and finding faith, this YA novel is the debut of one of the most gifted writers I've encountered. YA tends to shy away from serious examinations of religious belief, but Gilbert tackles the subject with sensitivity, insight, and compassion.

8. THE INQUISITOR'S MARK by Dianne Salerni. A wonderful middle grade novel, second in a trilogy (or possible quintology) about a secret eighth day of the week accessible only to certain people. Combining Arthurian legend with quantum science, this super-cool book is one of my favorite MG novels of all time. And yes, that's counting the Harry Potter series.

9. ILLUMINAE by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. I first heard about this book at a regional SCBWI conference, where agents and editors were raving about it as the Next Big Thing. I approached it with some skepticism as a result, but when I read it, I found that they were right: it's the Next Big Thing. A brilliantly conceived and written YA science fiction novel (first in a series) that will be copied endlessly but never equaled.

10. VALLEY OF FIRES by J. Barton Mitchell. I've been telling people about Mitchell's "Conquered Earth" series for years, ever since I happened upon the first book in my local library. I guess I haven't told enough people, because this totally original YA science fiction series about a future Earth that's been invaded by mysterious beings hasn't yet captured the mass audience it so richly deserves. VALLEY OF FIRES is the concluding book in this wildly imaginative trilogy; pick up the first two installments, MIDNIGHT CITY and THE SEVERED TOWER, if you know what's good for you!

When I finish reading books, I typically donate them to my local library. But I still have the final two books on the list, so I thought I'd give them away here (along with a third, mystery book that didn't quite make my top 10 list but is pretty darn cool nonetheless). The giveaway is U.S. only. Good luck!

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Well, that's it for now! I'll see you in 2016, a year that will witness lots of other great books, including the publication of my sequel, SCAVENGER OF SOULS!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

YA Guy... Self-Publishes!

Back in the day, when YA Guy was a mere stripling of sixteen, I wrote my first complete novel. Titled To Alter the Past, it was a fairly routine swords-and-sorcery epic, with warriors and monsters and all the things my Tolkien-reading and D&D-playing self was into at the time. I still have it on a shelf in my closet, a manuscript typed on my mom's manual typewriter, with all the typos carefully corrected with white-out.

The reason it's on my shelf and not yours is that my options for publishing it at the time were limited. I sent it to a family friend who was in publishing, and he very nicely read the first chapter and provided me with feedback that amounted to: "This isn't publishable; keep working on your craft." Not satisfied with that answer, I flirted with having it published by a subsidy ("vanity") press at the approximate cost of $5000; I was going to owe my parents big-time for that. But when the press sent me a couple of their books and I realized my writing, even at age sixteen, was considerably more polished than these samples, I wisely decided to take the family friend's advice. I honed my craft for over thirty years, and now, of course, I've published one novel and have another due out next year.

The point of this lengthy story is that while publishing options were limited back then, they're ubiquitous now. Anyone with a computer can self-publish a book, typically at minimal cost, and have it available for sale. People choose to self-publish for a variety of reasons, and I personally find no fault with any of them. In my case, though I've chosen to pursue the traditional route, I've kept open the possibility that I might also choose to self-publish some day.

Why, you ask, did I choose to self-publish this title? That's another long story. It's actually the first novel I completed after I'd taken a twenty-year hiatus from writing fiction; I finished it in 2010, just before I started writing what would become my first published novel, SURVIVAL COLONY 9. BOSS KRENKEL was a project I'd dreamed of writing for years, a twisted retelling of the Santa Claus story in which Kris Kringle is a brutal colonizer of the North Pole's indigenous people, the Alephs (later Elves). The idea came to me when my own children were young and my wife and I were still practicing the gentle deception of encouraging their belief in Santa Claus; I asked myself what the logical culmination would be if there were a deeper, more sinister deception to this myth, and BOSS KRENKEL was my answer.

But here's the thing: it wasn't publishable. That's what editors and agents told me (including my own). Though the writing, if I do say so myself, is among the best I've produced; though the story and world-building and mythology are, in my view, as good as they're going to get, the nature of the story I chose to tell just wasn't commercial enough. Maybe, if I'd spent years beating the bushes, trying to find an advocate for this book--or making such substantial revisions to it that it would no longer resemble the book I originally set out to write--I would have been able to publish it the traditional way. But I didn't want to spend my energy as a writer in that possibly fruitless struggle; I wanted to move on to other projects (and I did). BOSS KRENKEL remains what it was when I wrote it: a story I love, and good practice for other stories I've managed to sell. But if it was going to see the light of day, it was going to have to do so via a non-traditional means.

They tell you when you start writing not to worry about market trends or commercial viability but to "write the book of your heart," the book you most want to write. I agree with that. But if you do so, you have to accept the possibility that the book of your heart might not be publishable, and that you'll have to decide what to do with it. BOSS KRENKEL was (and to some extent still is) the book of my heart, and I wanted it to be out there in some form. I don't care if it sells, which is actually incredibly liberating; I just care for the pure creative act that produced it. If anyone wants to give it a try, I'd love to hear what you think of it; but for the most part, I'm just happy it's mine.

So welcome, BOSS KRENKEL! Thanks for everything you've done for me. And now it's time to move on to the next book I long to write.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

YA Guy Gives Away... Free Copies of SURVIVAL COLONY 9!

The title of this post says it all: I'm giving away free signed copies of SURVIVAL COLONY 9!

Why? Two reasons. First, I've been thinking of ways to thank everyone who's supported my book, and this seems like a good way (and a good time of year) to do it. Second, copies of SCAVENGER OF SOULS will be coming in before I know it, and I've got to start clearing my shelves to make room for them.

So here's the deal: if you want a free, signed paperback copy of SC9, just leave your name and mailing address in the comments section--or, if you'd prefer that not everyone on earth had your address, email it to me at (I'm afraid I can ship only to U.S. mailing addresses. I apologize for that, but the costs of international mailing on this scale are simply too high.) If you want your copy inscribed, tell me who I should make it out to. As the orders come in, I'll put them in the mail. If you want your book by Christmas, you should get the order to me soon. But the giveaway will keep running until I'm out of copies. 

So that's it, folks. Free copies, no strings attached. (A review on Goodreads and/or Amazon would be nice, but it's not a condition of getting the book.) Just my way of saying thanks.

Have a great holiday season, and I'll see you in 2016!


YA Guy

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

YA Guy Hosts... L. L. Reynolds, Author of RAFE RYDER AND THE WELL OF WISDOM!

Ever since YA Guy started tweeting, one of my very favorite tweeps has been L. L. Reynolds, an amazing person, great friend, and now, PUBLISHED AUTHOR! I'm so excited to have her on the blog to talk about her journey to publication and her debut novel, RAFE RYDER AND THE WELL OF WISDOM!

YA Guy: Welcome to the blog, L. L.! Can you tell us about your journey to publication?

L. L. Reynolds: My journey to publication began with the traditional publishing dream. I tested the waters by querying twelve agents, three at a time. (I’m not a mass query type of girl.) I took my time stalking the agents … er ... did I say stalk? I meant … studying the agents, following them on twitter, and generally trying to gauge if our personalities might mesh. 

To my delight, most of them requested at least a partial of my manuscript, and, to my dismay, they took three to six months before letting me know “Rafe Ryder wasn’t right for their lists” in a variety of polite ways.

Two years later, after only my sixth rejection, it dawned on me … it was time to explore my options. As fate would dictate, it was then that I met the fabulous indie author, Katie Cross. She generously shared everything she had learned on her publishing journey with me. She didn’t fill my head with wild notions, she simply gave me questions to consider.

Did I want to solely own my rights to the books I wrote? Did I want to exercise complete artistic and creative control of my books, or did I want to face the possibility of rewriting my work based on publishers’ opinions about what was currently selling? Did I want to control my cover designs? Did I want to choose my own editors? Did I want to make a 12.5% royalty for approximately six months while my publisher helped me market my book in that very limited time span, or would I rather have a 70% royalty forever? Did I want to risk my books someday going out of print? (Good questions, huh?)

As I pondered (and researched the dickens) out of these questions, I wrestled with another dilemma. I wanted to be taken seriously as a writer, but I wasn’t sure that would be possible if I struck out on my own. Yet, at the same time, I felt aggravated that my book might have to conform to somebody else’s ideas and expectations in order for it to have a chance in the world. *Breaks into a tap dance as Sammy Davis, Jr belts out, I've gotta be me* on my iPod.*

Continuing to question, bristle and research, I noticed more and more traditional authors writing articles saying they were switching from traditional publishing to independent publishing. (Hmmmmm. Interesting.) But starting an independent publishing company is a lot of work. Could I do it? More than that, did I even want to do it?

Ultimately, my decision came down to one thing … I’m a fiercely independent soul, and I wanted to decide with whom I worked. Thus, Ananiah Press was born. Now, I am in control of my own destiny. My success rests solely in my own hands, no one else’s, and that really works for me.

YAG: I think those are important questions for anyone who considers publishing to ask. Now tell us a bit about the end result: RAFE RYDER AND THE WELL OF WISDOM!
LLR: RAFE RYDER AND THE WELL OF WISDOM is a secular middle grade fantasy. The following is a blurby bit to explain the overall story:

Twelve-year-old Rafe Ryder’s year couldn’t get worse. His parents have shipped him off to live with his grandmother and he doesn’t know if he’ll ever see his sick father again. Arriving in Maine, Rafe plots his return to England, but the possibility of a homecoming slips further from his grasp when an adventure in a corn maze at his new school goes wrong, and he and twelve of his schoolmates are mysteriously transported to Mystfira—a realm of angels, leprechauns, gargoyles and fairies—and home to an elite angelic training school.

Forced to co-exist with student angels and surrounded by more danger than he ever could have imagined, Rafe searches for a way home. But when he discovers unlikely friendships with angels, fairies, and leprechauns, Rafe realizes Mystfira has it charms—even if it rains fire and hosts the universe’s deadliest creatures. Where else could he attend school in a palace, catch a fairy xant, and watch angels prove themselves in Adomis trials?

If only he and his friends hadn’t blundered upon a sinister underworld plot to gain control of the heavens and Earth. Now, like it or not, if Rafe wants to go home, he’ll have to find a way to save it first.

Blurby bit aside, the idea for Rafe Ryder came to me in 2008 when my own son came home for a quick weekend visit and I realized he was extremely ill. I refused to let him return to his home in NYC until we got him checked out at the ER. (Advice for momma bears everywhere: Always follow your maternal intuition!) Long story, short. My son needed two artificial heart valves and a permanent pacemaker inserted at age 24 ... but he was alive! It’s hard not to think about angels when you’re sitting by your sick child’s bed running IV antibiotics round the clock.

Inspired by a gift my son had given me for my birthday a few months earlier—a wooden angel with the words “Believe in Miracles” splashed across its front—and in an effort to remain calm, strong and somewhat sane for him, I began to tell myself a story as I sat next to his bedside… the story of Rafe Ryder.

YAG: That’s an amazing story, and I’m glad it had a happy ending! Now give us some insight into your writing process—walk us through a day in your writing life. Do you write every day? Do you have any particular rituals?

LLR: There has been no such thing as a typical day of writing since last February when we started a kitchen renovation in our house. (HGTV makes these things look so simple and easy! I assure you, they are not!) When the carpenter is here I can’t even think, let alone string words together on the page. After dinner, things begin to quiet down, and I’m able to write.

Yes, I do write every day. I keep notebooks everywhere, even in the car, so I can jot ideas down. (Yes, people! Sometimes how YOU ACT and what YOU SAY incites an author I say incite? I meant inspires an author. Use caution when you befriend us. Muhaahaahaaa!)

Over the last few months, I have taken to writing into the wee hours of the morning. It’s quiet and peaceful before the world wakes up, a perfect time to get some writing accomplished with no interruptions. The closest thing I have to a writing ritual is my habit of listening to classical music for ten minutes before I begin writing. It clears the cobwebs and inspires ideas. (At least, for me. I know it puts some people to sleep. Ha!)

YAG: What’s been the most memorable/amazing/awesome thing that’s happened to you in your writing career? (And if you feel like telling us, what’s been the worst thing?)

LLR: The most amazing thing that has happened in my writing career is having dinner with the author of Charlotte’s Web, the spectacular E. B. White! As a young nurse, he told me not to give up on my writing even though, at that point in my life, I hadn’t made it my career. I won’t bore you with details now, but I did write about it on my blog.

The second best thing is developing friendships with other writers. We’re all in this together. I love the camaraderie and general shenanigans of the writing community! (The YA guy is one of my favorites!)

 Other than the rejections I experienced from the six agents in the traditional publishing world (I’m still waiting for the other six to get back to me, but I’m not holding my breath), I can’t think of a “worst experience,” and for that, I’m grateful!

YAG: Well, that’s a good thing—I was just reading a horror story recently about someone whose publisher lost her manuscript! Anyway, do you have any tips for writers just starting out?

LLR: My advice for writers just starting out is twofold. Read, read, read, read (and read some more!), and when you are done reading, apply the seat of your pants to the seat of a chair and write every day. Write “rough.” It doesn’t have to be perfect. Just get your ideas on the paper. You can go back and tweak to your heart’s content when you find yourself in an editing mood.

YAG: Thanks so much for taking the time to visit YA Guy! (And for your very nice comments about YA Guy himself!) Readers, here’s more information about L. L. Reynolds and where to find RAFE RYDER AND THE WELL OF WISDOM!

About the author: L. L. Reynolds is a registered nurse turned middle grade/young adult fantasy writer from Vermont with a husband, three children, two dogs and anything but a dull life!

A labor and delivery nurse for nearly twenty years, L. L. once had dinner with E. B. White, the author of Charlotte's Web, and it remains one of the highlights of her life thus far.

She loves tea, children, books, music, art, animals, and lemon meringue pie.

Find out more:

Monday, November 16, 2015

YA Guy Reveals... Monica Tesler's BOUNDERS (plus a giveaway)!

One of the books YA Guy's most looking forward to is Monica Tesler's debut science fiction novel, BOUNDERS, which releases on January 5, 2016. It sounds like exactly the kind of thing my twelve-year-old son would love to read (with me)! So I've already preordered it, and today, I have the good fortune to host Monica on the blog. Check out the cover, read about and preorder the book, and enter the giveaway for some great BOUNDERS swag!

About BOUNDERS: Twelve-year-old Jasper and his friends are forced to go up against an alien society in this first book in a brand-new adventure series!

Thirteen years ago, Earth Force--a space-military agency--discovered a connection between brain structure and space travel. Now they’ve brought together the first team of cadets, called Bounders, to be trained as high-level astronauts.

Twelve-year-old Jasper is part of this team being sent out into space. After being bullied back on Earth, Jasper is thrilled to have something new and different to do with other kids who are more like him. While learning all about the new technologies and taking classes in mobility--otherwise known as flying with jetpacks--Jasper befriends the four other students in his pod and finally feels like he has found his place in the world.

But then Jasper and his new friends learn that they haven’t been told everything about Earth Force. They weren’t brought to space for astronaut training, but to learn a new, highly classified brain-sync technology that allows them to manipulate matter and quantum bound, or teleport. And it isn’t long before they find out this new technology was actually stolen from an alien society.

When Jasper and his friends discover the truth about why Earth Force needs them, they are faced with a choice: rebel against the academy that brought them together, or fulfill their duty and protect the planet at all costs.

About the author: Monica Tesler lives in a coastal community south of Boston with her husband and their two boys. She earned her bachelors and law degree from the University of Michigan, and she has worked as an attorney for more than fifteen years. She writes on the commuter boat, in coffee shops, and at her kitchen table. She tries to meditate every day, but often ends up fantasizing about space, time travel, or strange lands, both real and imagined.

BOUNDERS, the first book in her debut middle grade science fiction adventure series, releases January 5, 2016 from Simon & Schuster/Aladdin.

Enter below to win this great BOUNDERS swag! (Three winners will be chosen from among all entries; shipping to U.S. addresses only.)

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Thursday, October 29, 2015

YA Guy Reviews... Two Great Books!

YA Guy's drowning in paper, folks. I'm finishing up one manuscript, working on the copy-edited SCAVENGER OF SOULS, and reading a ton of freshman essays for my day job as a college teacher. Plus I've got some really cool news to report soon, and it's taking up a sizable chunk of my time as well. Hence the fact that I haven't posted anything here in a while.

But hey, that's the writer's life, right?

In addition to all of my writing projects, I've also been trying to keep up with reading. I read Ray Bradbury's classic The Martian Chronicles recently, and found it interesting--not really science fiction, since Bradbury has no real interest in the "science" part, and not at all accurate according to what we now know about the red planet, but very readable in an allegorical, philosophical kind of way. I recommend you check it out if you like thought-provoking fantasy.

I've also had the good fortune to read two amazing recent publications, one of them YA and one of them MG. Without further ado, my reviews:

It's a Wonderful Death by Sarah J. Schmitt

When the first page of a novel features the main character’s accidental death at the hands of a bumbling and overzealous Grim Reaper, you know the rest of the book’s going to be one wild ride!

And that’s exactly the case with Sarah J. Schmitt’s debut YA novel, IT’S A WONDERFUL DEATH. Chronicling the misadventures of RJ, a self-centered cheerleader who’s desperate to prove herself worthy of a second chance at life, the novel careens from laugh-out-loud humor to spiritual rumination to heartbreaking realism without missing a beat. RJ herself is a wonderful character, a teen who’s made some truly awful choices in the name of being popular but who longs to be the better self she knows she can be. The characters who surround her, including not only celestial and infernal beings but RJ’s high school friends (and enemies), keep the action rollicking and the twists turning. When RJ gets the chance to relive three key moments in her life in an attempt to show that she’s redeemable, this Dickensian (or Capraesque) plot device opens up a profound reflection on the seemingly insignificant decisions that make or break a life. But the narrative never bogs down into preachiness or pedantry; RJ’s vibrant personality and the constant one-liners keep the book fun and engaging even when it’s delving deep. And the twist at the end is both shocking and perfectly designed, closing the book on exactly the right note.

IT’S A WONDERFUL DEATH gets my highest recommendation. I can’t wait to see what other wonders Schmitt has up her sleeve!

The Inquisitor's Mark by Dianne Salerni

From a book about the afterlife, I now turn to a book about alternative time schemes. THE INQUISITOR'S MARK tells the story of Jax, an orphaned teen who discovers that he's a "Transitioner," with the magical ability to enter an eighth day situated between Wednesday and Thursday. Normal people can't enter the eighth day unless they're shackled to Transitioners, and there are other people, known as Kin, who have been imprisoned in the eighth day (thus they don't exist during the other seven) as a ward against their potential dark magic. The story delves into Arthurian legend--as well as Einsteinian relativity--to explain the origins and operations of the eighth day, creating an intoxicating mix of magic and science. And Jax's story is deeply compelling, as the parentless boy discovers the existence of a family he had no knowledge of, only to learn that they might be plotting the destruction of innocent people, normal and Transitioner alike. The moral dilemma that's set up by these revelations, as Jax and his newfound cousin must both choose between allegiance to family and responsibility to the larger world, will resonate perfectly with the book's target age group.

THE INQUISITOR'S MARK is the second book in a series that began with THE EIGHTH DAY (which I also loved); book three, THE MORRIGAN'S CURSE, comes out in January 2016. As a guy who's written a second book in a series, I know how tough such books can be; and indeed, for the first thirty pages or so, MARK is a bit overwhelming as Salerni tries to catch the reader up on not only the story's core mythology but the events that occurred in THE EIGHTH DAY. Once you get past that somewhat rough start, however, the story barrels along, delivering both excitement and pathos.  I've read many MG fantasy series, including (of course) the Harry Potter books, and I can truthfully say that Salerni's series is second to none. My son, who's in some ways an even tougher critic than I am, says it's his favorite series of all time. So there you have it.

You might not hear from me for a while (next month is NaNoWriMo, after all), but at least you'll have these two great books to keep you occupied!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

YA Guy Participates in... The Fall 2015 YA Scavenger Hunt!

Once again, YA Guy's taking part in the YA Scavenger Hunt! Just like this past spring, I'm on the Blue Team, along with the other fabulous authors you see below:

This bi-annual event was 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 the hunt in our team! There are EIGHT contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for 72 hours!


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 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 4, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered. For more information, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.

Personal Giveaway: In addition to the prizes named above, readers who enter my personal giveaway via the Rafflecopter form below will be entered in a drawing to win one of two prizes: a signed copy of SURVIVAL COLONY 9 plus swag (bookmarks, postcards, and if I'm feeling really good on that day, T-shirt) or, for those of you who are writers, a query critique (1-2 pages, YA only, any genre). When you enter my giveaway, just indicate in the comments which prize you'd like, and I'll choose one winner for each!

Okay, got all that? Then let's meet the author I'm hosting, SHARON HUSS ROAT!

Sharon Huss Roat lives in Delaware with her husband and two children. She worked in public relations for 20 years--not, as some believe, 22--before deciding what she really wanted to be when she grew up. BETWEEN THE NOTES is her debut novel. When she’s not writing (or reading) books for young adults, you might find her planting vegetables in her backyard garden or sewing costumes for a school musical. Find out more about Sharon at:

About BETWEEN THE NOTES: When Ivy Emerson's family loses their house--complete with her beloved piano--the fear of what's to come seizes her like a bad case of stage fright. Forced to give up her allowance, her cell phone, and the window seat in her lilac-colored bedroom, Ivy moves with her family from her affluent neighborhood to Lakeside, aka "the wrong side of the tracks." Hiding the truth from her friends--and the cute new guy in school, who may have secrets of his own--seems like a good idea at first. But when the bad boy next door threatens to ruin everything, Ivy's carefully crafted lies begin to unravel . . . and there is no way to stop them. Once things get to the breaking point, Ivy turns to her music, some surprising new friends, and the trusting heart of her disabled little brother. And she may be surprised that not everyone is who she thought they were . . . including herself.

To buy BETWEEN THE NOTESfollow this link!


The Scavenger Hunt is over! I hope you had fun, and I'll see you again next spring!

SURVIVAL COLONY 9 + swag/query critique giveaway

To enter my personal giveaway, use the Rafflecopter form below:

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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

YA Guy Celebrates... September 23 Debuts!

September 23, 2014 will always hold a special place in YA Guy's heart. That's because that was the date of my debut, SURVIVAL COLONY 9. I expect to have other release dates in the future--in fact, as I've mentioned, the sequel, SCAVENGER OF SOULS, comes out next summer--but there really is nothing like your first time!

So to celebrate the one-year anniversary of my debut, I've teamed up with other 9/23/14 debuts to offer a great giveaway. (United States only.) The winner receives one signed copy of each of our books, as described below:

YA Guy: signed copy of SURVIVAL COLONY 9

Christina Farley: signed copy of winner's choice in the GILDED series (GILDED, SILVERN, or BRAZEN)

Darlene Beck Jacobson: signed copy of WHEELS OF CHANGE

Kendall Kulper: signed copy of SALT & STORM

Kristen Lippert-Martin: signed copy of TABULA RASA

The contest runs for one week, starting today. Enter via the Rafflecopter giveaway below. And good luck!

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Friday, September 11, 2015

YA Guy Looks Forward to... Fall!

YA Guy's a fall fan. The colors, the camping trips, the trick-or-treating (yes, I still dress up for Halloween and go out with my kids; see photo below). Fall just has a great feel for me, you know? Sometimes I get a rush of excitement just thinking about it.

Plus, lots of cool things are happening this fall: bookstore and bookshop appearances, NaNoWriMo, the YA Scavenger Hunt, a YA writers panel at a local library, and (to top it off) the Who in concert in late October! Plus SURVIVAL COLONY 9 turns one year old on September 23; keep an eye out for a big giveaway on that date. And (unless I miss my guess) I should be hearing some interesting things about SCAVENGER OF SOULS too. (A cover reveal, maybe? Here's hoping.) So I'm definitely gearing up for Fall 2015 in a big way!

But before I leave summer behind, I wanted to look back at some of the events and excitement that took place over the warm months. It's been a great summer, and here are some highlights to share!


My family and I went to Utah, which looks a lot like the landscape I imagined in SURVIVAL COLONY 9 and SCAVENGER OF SOULS. Then I traveled to Concord, Massachusetts for a two-week summer seminar, where I researched a historical novel I'm planning. Great times and great environments for a writer to be in!


In addition to finishing SCAVENGER OF SOULS and shipping it off to my editor, I've had a very active summer, writing-wise. A new group of Pittsburgh authors of children's literature has formed (with monthly meet-ups at local hangouts), and I've also hooked into a larger collective of Pittsburgh-area authors. (Pittsburgh, the literary epicenter of the world? Who knew?) I was also invited to be the keynote speaker at the Western Pennsylvania Council of Teachers of English (WPCTE) annual English Festival, where students in middle and high schools compete in trivia and writing contests based on works of literature they've read. (That won't take place until next May, but the invitation came this summer.) And finally, on Labor Day, traditionally seen as the end of summer, SURVIVAL COLONY 9 came out in paperback! So it's definitely been a summer filled with writing milestones!


It's no secret (or it shouldn't be, anyway) that I'm a huge baseball fan. (Remember the scene where Laman and Querry play catch? That was me and my son.) This summer, my family and I took in quite a variety of ball games--not only our hometown Pittsburgh Pirates, but the Pirates' AA affiliate in Altoona, PA and the Washington Nationals during a weekend trip to DC. Next summer, my son and I plan to travel throughout Pennsylvania watching as many Major League and Minor League games as we can!

I'm sure there was more stuff, but that'll do for now. Here's to a great summer, and here's looking forward to an even greater fall!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

YA Guy Reads... Historical Fiction!

YA Guy's always been a voracious reader. (Like, what author isn't?) Though there are certain genres I've focused on--YA and science fiction, most obviously--I've dipped into lots of others over the years, including biography and memoir, travel narratives, epic fantasy, mystery, and many more. I'm too restless a reader (and writer) to exclude anything!

So now, I find myself reading historical fiction, something I haven't done much of in the past. My new fascination with the genre is largely due to the fact that I've begun to write a historical novel myself, centered on Thoreau and his relationship with abolitionist John Brown. I'm discovering that there's some really good stuff out there, and while I'm in the thick of it, I thought I'd share it with you here.

Mr. Emerson's Wife by Amy Belding Brown. Ralph Waldo Emerson was married twice, first to Ellen Tucker, who died shortly after their marriage from tuberculosis, and then to Lydia Jackson, who bore him four children and lived with him through the rest of his life. This novel is told from Lydia's point of view, and it delves into the frustrations of being a woman in the nineteenth century, even (or especially) when one is the wife of a famous man. Though it's a bit disconcerting to delve into Emerson's intimate life, the book does a good job of humanizing characters whom most people think of as pure symbols or icons.

The Good Lord Bird by James McBride. There are many novels written about John Brown, and this one, which won the National Book Award, is well worth reading. Purporting to be the narrative of an escaped slave who rode with Brown in Kansas and survived his raid on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry (no such person actually existed), the novel seeks to deflate the Brown myth through comedy and satire. I wasn't crazy about that at first, but the book gains richness and resonance as it goes on.

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. Told in alternating points of view by Sarah Grimke, a southern slaveholder who became an abolitionist, and Handful, one of Sarah's slaves, this Oprah's Book Club novel does an excellent job of portraying the lives of antebellum women, black and white. For me, it bogged down a bit in the middle with its focus on Sarah's romantic entanglements, but it picked up thereafter, weaving other historical figures expertly into the tapestry of Sarah and Handful's lives.

Raising Holy Hell by Bruce Olds. Another John Brown novel, this one a kind of postmodern pastiche that combines actual quotations, newspaper clippings, slave laws, and other historical material with an inventive, fictionalized portrait of Brown. While I didn't agree with the author's representation of Brown as a complete madman, I found the technique intriguing.

Woodsburner by John Pipkin. Based on an actual event in which a young Thoreau accidentally burned down part of the Concord woods he so loved, this novel felt particularly well researched to me. Its cast of characters includes not only Thoreau but an opium-addicted minister and a businessman who discovers the new art of photography (and thereafter trades in pornographic images). You'll have to read it yourself to see how all of these strands tie together!

Cloudsplitter by Russell Banks. Yet another John Brown novel, this time narrated by Brown's son Owen, who accompanied his father to Virginia but stayed behind at Harpers Ferry and thus survived the raid. I haven't finished this book, mostly because it's nearly eight hundred pages long (!!!), but it promises to be another good read.

So there you have it! If you know of any other good historical novels--especially ones focusing on Thoreau, Brown, the Transcendentalists, and/or antebellum slavery--drop me a line!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

YA Guy Celebrates... SURVIVAL COLONY 9 in paperback (plus a giveaway!)

The paperback edition of SURVIVAL COLONY 9 comes out September 1, and to celebrate, YA Guy’s offering some goodies to readers. Here’s how it works:

Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below. Provide me your mailing address in the free entry tab, and I’ll send you signed SC9 swag (bookmarks, postcards, and bookplate)!

But wait! It gets better. You’ll also be entered in a grand prize drawing to win one of three signed copies of the SC9 sequel, SCAVENGER OF SOULS, which releases in summer 2016!

And it gets even better! For each of the next three Rafflecopter options that you select (following me on Facebook, Twitter, and my blog), you’ll get an additional entry for the grand prize drawing!

Okay, now you’re saying, “it couldn’t get any better,” right? But you’d be wrong! If you preorder a paperback copy of SURVIVAL COLONY 9 before the September 1 release date (from Amazon, B&N, IndieBound, or any other retailer), you’ll get FIVE additional entries for the grand prize drawing! All I need you to do is select that option on the Rafflecopter giveaway and then send proof of purchase (screen capture, jpeg, etc.) to, and you’ll get the extra five entries.

So, to sum up:
  • Leave me your address for signed swag and one entry in the grand prize drawing.
  • Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and my blog for additional entries.
  • Preorder the paperback of SURVIVAL COLONY 9 and email me proof of purchase for an additional five grand prize entries.

The contest runs from today until the day before the paperback release date: August 31, 2015.

So, what are you waiting for? There’s only a month left!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

YA Guy Hosts... Laura Lee Anderson, author of SONG OF SUMMER!

Pittsburgh is home to lots of great kidlit authors, and one of the newest is Laura Lee Anderson, whose YA debut, SONG OF SUMMER, releases as an e-book today! Let's hear from Laura as she tells us about her book and about one of the main characters, whose deafness plays a key role in the story!

song of summer cover

The thirteen qualities of Robin’s Perfect Man range from the mildly important “Handsome” to the all-important “Great taste in music.” After all, Westfield’s best high school folk musician can’t go out with some shmuck who only listens to top 40 crap. When hot Carter Paulson walks in the door of Robin’s diner, it looks like the list may have come to life. It’s not until the end of the meal that she realizes he’s profoundly deaf. Carter isn’t looking for a girlfriend. Especially not a hearing one. Not that he has anything against hearing girls, they just don’t speak the same language. But when the cute waitress at Grape Country Dairy makes an effort to talk with him, he takes her out on his yellow Ducati motorcycle. Music, language, and culture sing back-up as love takes the melody, but just how long can a summer song last?

From the first moments that I envisioned Song of Summer, I knew that I wanted it to be in dual point of view- from Robin's perspective as well as from Carter's perspective. Which meant I had to do a LOT of research. I'm not deaf, I didn't have any deaf friends, and it had been a long time since third grade, when I taught myself the ASL alphabet so I could communicate with my best friend during Library class. Here are some things I learned about deaf culture while I was researching Song of Summer:

1) Sign language cannot be written. Like, it CANNOT be written. It is a visual language. Direct word-for-word translations are incorrect because facial expressions and body language are SO important! All of Carter's (and his family's) signed sentences are translated into English in the books because they have to be! It's impossible to write sign!

2) People who are deaf deal with: Hearing people questioning their driving ability/right to drive, hearing people shouting at them, hearing people offering them Braille menus, hearing people staring at them, hearing people showing them the one (rude) sign that they know... the list goes on. I tried to incorporate these into the book to educate hearing people on all the crap that people who are deaf go through! Go here to see more! (warning: swearing in video)

3) There are different stages and types of deafness. Most people who are deaf have some hearing available to them. The idea that people who are deaf have absolutely no hearing is usually false. Carter has next to no hearing and tells Robin that he's in the minority because of it.

4) Hearing aids are completely different from cochlear implants. So much so, that when I originally had Carter explain a cochlear implant as, "a really invasive, high-tech hearing aid," one of my friends corrected me. She told me that it would never be described as a hearing aid because the two are so different. Rather, it would be described as a "device that helps with hearing." So that's what Carter calls it in the book now! Also, cochlear implants are covered by medical insurance. Hearing aids are not usually.

I learned a lot more when I was preparing to write Song of Summer, and I am blessed to have learned a lot of it from the wonderful people at the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, where I took two semesters of ASL classes and got to know some great people. One of my favorite experiences is chronicled here: When I arrived to the first class 15 minutes late and nobody was allowed to speak.

If you want to read more about Carter and his culture, go ahead and... Click here to order on Kindle from Amazon. Click here to order on Nook from Barnes and Noble. Click here to order from Kobo. Click here to order from ibooks.

Thanks, Laura! If you want to learn more about Laura and her writing, visit her website!

Friday, July 3, 2015

YA Guy Talks about... Faith in YA Fiction!

You might have noticed that YA Guy's been quiet recently; that's because I was on vacation with my family in Moab, Utah, right near Arches National Park. (Very similar to the landscape I imagined for SURVIVAL COLONY 9 and its sequel, by the way.) During our week-long visit, we stayed in the house where Edward Abbey wrote parts of his environmental classic DESERT SOLITAIRE. Though the temperature was in the 100s all week--hey, it's the desert, right?--it's easy to see why Abbey saw this area as a profoundly beautiful, spiritual place.

Interestingly, the two YA books I took on my trip both deal seriously with spiritual matters. That's fairly rare in YA, where faith and spirituality tend to be caricatured as oppressive adjuncts of the Regime or the Older Generation. By contrast, both Kelly Loy Gilbert's CONVICTION and Stephanie Oakes's THE SACRED LIES OF MINNOW BLY treat religious belief as complex and conflicted--capable of causing harm, to be sure, but also capable of offering redemption and grace. The books share a great deal in common: not only are both about faith and fanaticism, but both center around murder mysteries and the secrets that keep families together (and tear them apart). Perhaps most importantly, both are terrific debuts that deserve a wide readership.

CONVICTION tells the story of Braden Raynor, a top high-school pitching prospect whose father--a religious talk-show personality--is accused of killing a police officer. While his father is in jail awaiting trial, Braden's older brother Trey, long estranged from the family, comes to take care of his younger brother. Tensions mount as Braden struggles to renew his relationship with Trey, to prepare for an all-important baseball game, and to provide testimony during his father's trial--testimony that may either doom or save the man who's been both Braden's rock and his tormentor his entire life.

Gilbert is an exceptionally fine prose stylist, and her glowing sentences work perfectly for this story of people struggling to find light in the darkness of their lives. Braden and Trey are both remarkably well-rendered characters--but even more remarkably, their father, who could easily have devolved into caricature, emerges as a fully human being, at once grandiose and self-loathing, loving and manipulative, inspirational and horrifying. The enigmas of faith, the human desire to find meaning and certainty even at the greatest of costs, are played out brilliantly as the story shifts back and forth in time, giving us glimpses into Braden's troubled relationship with his father and brother. If I have any reservation about the book, it's that some of the baseball material doesn't feel quite right--the language and scenarios sound more like the work of an educated fan than of an actual player like Braden. (This wouldn't be a problem if not for the fact that for Braden, faith and baseball are integrally connected.) But that's a minor complaint about a book that's otherwise so rich and rewarding.

THE SACRED LIES OF MINNOW BLY was originally scheduled for a 2014 publication, so I've been waiting for it a long time. When I heard that the story was loosely based on a Grimm fairy tale about a handless maiden, I expected the book to be fantasy--but it's not. Instead, it's a realistic story of a teenage girl, Minnow, who escapes a brutal religious cult only to find herself incarcerated in a juvenile facility after she commits a violent crime that may have been induced by her traumatic past. As with Gilbert's book, SACRED LIES moves back and forth in time as Minnow recalls her life as a cult member, her growing doubt in the cult's charismatic leader, and the loss of her hands as punishment for her disobedience. It's a chilling story, and a complex one to tell--indeed, at times the temporal shifts struck me as a bit awkward. But if more lurid and macabre than CONVICTION, the book is equally adept at exploring the paradoxes of belief; Oakes's great strength as a writer lies in getting under the skin of people who'll risk everything for their faith, even their own and their loved ones' lives. Minnow's story is heartbreaking but ultimately uplifting, and it'll keep readers up at night not only while they're reading but after they're done.

Turns out I couldn't have taken two better books along on my western pilgrimage. I look forward to more explorations of faith (and other subjects) from these talented YA writers!

Friday, June 19, 2015

YA Guy Reviews... Non-YA Books!

As I think I mentioned in an earlier post, YA Guy's taking a little break from YA this summer. Maybe that's because I've read over 150 YA books in the past three years (plus writing several more), and I felt a need to read outside my genre. Personally, I think YA writers need to read widely; I think you can learn a lot about writing YA by reading things that aren't YA. But leaving aside the benefits as a writer, it's just fun to read other stuff from time to time.

Last summer, I read non-YA science fiction. This summer, I'm focusing on classics. I've read only two in the past month--they take longer to read than YA!--but they've definitely been worth it.

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

Way back in graduate school, I taught a class on science fiction, including H. G. Wells's novel The Invisible Man. My graduate mentor visited my class on the day I was discussing the Wells novel, and she was totally confused because she thought I was teaching the Ellison book! But I hadn't read it at that point, and I didn't read it until this summer.

It's a pretty zany book. Some of the scenes--such as the oft-anthologized Battle Royal or the scene in the paint factory where the anonymous narrator's job is to mix black paint into white--are almost preposterously allegorical, and as such they have little realism. But other parts of the book--in particular, the Harlem episodes, including the narrator's struggles with the Brotherhood (a thinly-veiled Communist Party)--are striking as realistic representations of urban African-American experience in the middle of the past century. And the narrator's voice, at once learned and naive, bellicose and timid, hopeful and cynical, is one of the great inventions of American literature.

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

You have to go even farther back in my history for my first encounter with this book. I read the Classics Illustrated version of it when I was nine or ten (the version pictured to the right), when my parents were trying to introduce me and my siblings to great literature. (That was the way I discovered a lot of classics I'd later read for real: Frankenstein, The Last of the Mohicans, Moby-Dick, and more.) I've read many Dickens novels since, but for some reason, I never read A Tale of Two Cities. So I decided it was time to take the plunge.

I'll admit, it took me a while to settle in to Dickens's verbose, orotund style. I've heard that Dickens protracted everything because he was paid by the word for his serialized fiction; whether true or not, it was a bit much to take at first. But once I got into the story, I was able to accept the style. Dickens produces some great set pieces, particularly those surrounding the events of the French Revolution, and some great characters, particularly the ominous Madame Defarge, who scares the hell out of her own creator but who I saw as a precursor of many "kick-butt" female characters of the present day. And the novel's title, I discovered to my surprise and delight, has less to do with the two physical cities in which the action takes place--Paris and London--than with the two metaphysical "cities" sometime protagonist Sydney Carton struggles between: the hellish city of selfish sensuality and the heavenly city of selfless sacrifice. I don't remember much from the old comic book, but I do remember Carton's ultimate action and concluding speech. They were powerful to me back then, and they're still powerful to this day.

So I think I'm going to read either Les Miserables or Crime and Punishment next. Then it'll be back to the great YA novels I've got waiting on my Kindle!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

YA Guy Lists... His Top Ten Superhero Movies!

YA Guy, being YA Guy, loves superheroes.

I read all the comics when I was a kid, drew my own characters (like the one pictured above), dreamed of becoming a comic-book artist like Jack Kirby or John Byrne (some of the biggest names in my day). When the movies started to come out in the eighties, I was first in line. Still am.

But the thing is, I'm becoming very disappointed in the direction superhero films are taking. I saw the latest Avengers installment today, and it was a huge let-down: too chaotic, too noisy, too full of unconvincing computer-generated mayhem and too-obvious philosophical truths (there is evil in all of us, etc.) at the expense of plot or character development. (In this respect it was only marginally worse than the first, which had all the above problems but a somewhat more coherent script.) Maybe I'm getting too old, and maybe I shouldn't complain if movies about caped deities seem immature. But the best superhero movies have always struck me as intense, inventive, and emotionally complex explorations of what it means to be human. They don't need to be sophomoric video games.

So here, for fun, is a list of my 10 favorite superhero movies. Enjoy, and feel free to suggest others!
  1. X-Men. By far the best of the bunch, this film about super-powered mutants is a trenchant analysis of prejudice and victimization with a brilliant cast, great special effects, and compelling story. The conflict between Magneto and Professor X is incisively drawn, the relationship between Wolverine and Rogue surprisingly tender. And some of the action sequences--most notably, Magneto's game of Russian Roulette at the train station--are utterly stunning.
  2. Spider-Man 2. I'm talking about the original series here, with Tobey Maguire in the lead role. I found this one of the most emotionally gripping of all superhero movies, with the hero struggling to reconcile his responsibilities with his desires. And the performance by Alfred Molina as Doctor Octopus was amazing. Not surprisingly, novelist Michael Chabon shared story credits on this film.
  3. Batman. The Michael Keaton/Tim Burton original. Without lavish special effects, this film gets to the heart of the Batman mythos in ways the overblown Dark Knight films can't touch. Keaton was a surprising but perfect choice, Jack Nicholson was great as the Joker, and Burton managed to satisfy the demands of the genre while keeping his own eccentricities on a tight rein (something he failed to do in the bizarre sequel).
  4. Iron Man. The first and best of the three-part series (all of which are pretty darn good). I had a few problems with the film's politics--which seem to suggest that it's okay to produce weapons of mass destruction as long as they don't fall into the hands of the "bad guys"--but the great performance by Robert Downey Jr. and the gritty realism (for a film in this genre) redeem it.
  5. Daredevil. One of the things I've always disliked about the Dark Knight films (and comics) is their tedious repetition of the timeworn cliche that heroes and villains are actually the same deep inside. Yeah, yeah, yawn. But in Daredevil, vigilantism is represented with something like its true psychological complexity. Plus, the movie's villain--an over-the-top Bullseye--is hilarious.
  6. X-Men: First Class. Another classy chapter in the X-Men series (in truth, there's not a bad film in the bunch), this one anchored by the astonishing performance of Michael Fassbender as a young, tortured Magneto. The scene in which he confronts escaped Nazis in Argentina is worth the price of admission in itself.
  7. The Amazing Spider-Man 2. In general, I don't see the need for all these "re-boots" of existing superhero movies. (I just heard that a new Fantastic 4 is coming out this summer.) And I didn't much care for the first installment of the new Spider-Man franchise, which seemed to add nothing to the old except an unconvincing green monkey-dog supposed to be the Lizard. But the second film in the new series hits all the right notes, with Jamie Foxx expertly cast as the bumbling loner-turned supervillain Electro, and with a surprise death at the end I never expected the filmmakers to have the guts to carry out.
  8. Guardians of the Galaxy. All right, this one is fairly chaotic, but at least it's chaotic in the name of fun and not in the super-serious, portentous fashion of so many overblown superhero flicks. The moment the hero entered a secret lair on  a remote planet to the tune of Redbone's "Come and Get Your Love," I was hooked.
  9. Spider-Man. The first film in the Tobey Maguire series. The Green Goblin as played by Willem Dafoe was a great villain, and the young actors did a terrific job of capturing teen angst and insecurity. The third film in this series had too many villains and too much stuff going on, but the first two are solid.
  10. The Incredibles. I'm cheating a bit here, since this Disney/Pixar film isn't based on a comic book. But I loved how deftly the film turned superhero conventions on their head while still paying homage to the spirit and style of the genre. Kind of an Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay for the silver screen.
Yes, I know that's my second Michael Chabon reference in this post--and that's no mistake. Great superhero movies should aspire to the status of art, not just escapism. All of the above do precisely that.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

YA Guy Reviews... Climate Change Books!

Here's a little known fact: YA Guy has a passion for the environment.

Well, maybe that's not such a big secret. Some of my blog posts are environment-related; my novels are set in a desert world radically altered by environmental degradation; and I'm sure if you checked my Twitter feed or Facebook page you'd find environmental stuff there too.

But did you know I've been an environmental activist for almost ten years? And that the focus of my activism has been the fight against global warming?

It's true. Ever since I saw the film An Inconvenient Truth in 2006, I've been involved in raising popular and political consciousness about the threat posed by a changing climate. I've organized and participated in marches and rallies, met with politicians, developed a regional citizens climate change network, hosted teach-ins on climate change, taught the subject in my college classes, sat on a local college board dedicated to reducing campus emissions, and done whatever else I could to highlight the issue of climate change and advocate for personal and political action to combat it. I sometimes feel I haven't done enough, but I've sure tried.

Nor do I see this side of me as inconsistent with being YA Guy. I believe (and the science backs me up) that climate change is the greatest challenge future generations will face. While my existing novels are not in any way political polemics (and none of my works-in-progress directly addresses climate change at all), I believe YA literature has a responsibility to dramatize this issue.

Lots of great YA books do just that: Paolo Bacigalupi's Ship Breaker and The Drowned Cities, Mindy McGinnis's Not a Drop to Drink and In a Handful of Dust, Sherri L. Smith's Orleans, Emmi Itaranta's Memory of Water, Saci Lloyd's The Carbon Diaries, and many more recent YA books use climate change as either a backdrop or central feature of their fictions.

A new scholarly book by Adam Trexler, Anthropocene Fictions: The Novel in a Time of Climate Change (2015), barely touches on YA (which is one of its weaknesses), but it's an interesting analysis of the emergence of climate-change fiction (which some, following the coinage of Dan Bloom, call "cli-fi," but which Trexler calls "anthropocene fiction"). Trexler asks two main questions: how can fiction help us to conceptualize and address the problems we're facing and will continue to face in a climate-changed world? And how will fiction itself be changed by the changing climate and all its ramifications? Though I take issue with Trexler's claim that there is "entirely too much science fiction" (6) among climate-change novels--as if science fiction is a poor substitute for realistic fiction rather than the thought-provoking genre it has always been--this review and analysis of anthropocene fiction is a welcome addition to the literature of (or about) climate change.

The same is true of journalist Naomi Klein's This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate (2014). Klein argues that the truly inconvenient truth about climate change--something Al Gore's film refuses to admit--is that we can't meaningfully address the changing climate without radically restructuring the economic, political, and cultural underpinnings of the society that has caused the problem. In other words, so long as we remain addicted to capitalism's mantra of limitless growth, we'll never be able to resist the fossil-fuel mania that is driving anthropogenic climate change. Klein argues that local economies, democratically organized, are a necessary alternative to our current global economy, an economy ruled by corporations whose sole mandate is greater profit even at the expense of people and planet. I tend to agree with Klein; the cheery idea that we can solve the problem utilizing the same models that produced the problem strikes me as fulfilling the classic definition of insanity. Whether we as a species can actually take the radical steps Klein advocates is, of course, another matter.

As a writer, an environmentalist, and a father, YA Guy certainly hopes we can.