Tuesday, March 29, 2016

YA Guy Participates in... The Spring 2016 YA Scavenger Hunt!

Once again, YA Guy's taking part in the YA Scavenger Hunt! This time around, I'm on the RED 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 red 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 NINE contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will be online only until April 3!


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 red 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, April 3, 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 will have a chance to win a signed ARC of my forthcoming book, appropriately titled SCAVENGER OF SOULS! Like the Hunt itself, this personal giveaway is open internationally. Check out an excerpt from the novel on my website, and then use the Rafflecopter form below to enter!

Okay, got all that? Then let's meet the author I'm hosting, KIMBERLY DERTING!

Kimberly Derting is the author of the award-winning THE BODY FINDER series, THE PLEDGE trilogy, and THE TAKING and THE REPLACED (the first two books in THE TAKING trilogy). Her books have been translated into 15 languages, and both THE BODY FINDER and THE PLEDGE were YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults selections.

Kim lives in the Pacific Northwest, where the gloomy weather (seldom above 22 degrees Fahrenheit) is ideal for writing anything dark and creepy. Her three beautiful (and often mouthy) children serve as an endless source of inspiration and frequently find the things they say buried in the pages of their mother's books, or on Twitter for the world to see.

To find out more about Kim, go to her website at www.kimberlyderting.com.

About THE COUNTDOWN: In the concluding book in the otherworldly Taking trilogy, Kyra struggles to understand who she is as she races to save the world from complete destruction.

To buy THE COUNTDOWN, follow this link!


The Hunt's over, but there's still a little time to enter my personal giveaway (below)! Thanks for hunting!


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

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And, to continue the Hunt, go to Amy Plum's blog at http://www.amyplumbooks.com/blog/. Happy hunting!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

YA Guy Reviews... THE MIDNIGHT SEA by Kat Ross!

YA Guy had the incredible privilege of reading a pre-release copy of Kat Ross's new YA fantasy novel, THE MIDNIGHT SEA.

It blew me away.

Set in an Arabian Nights-inflected fantasy realm, THE MIDNIGHT SEA introduces us to Nazafareen, a teenage member of a nomadic people. When her younger sister is killed by a wight--one of the forms taken by the demonic Druj, undead creatures that once fought against the empire--Nazafareen swears to avenge her sister's death. She's given her opportunity to do so when the elite Water Dogs, soldiers whose job it is to hunt out and slay Druj, recruit her to join them. As a member of the Water Dogs, Nazafareen is "bonded"--linked both physically and spiritually--to a domesticated (or enslaved) Druj known as a daeva. Together, using her power of command and his magical control over the elements, Nazafareen and the daeva Darius set out to destroy Druj. But the discoveries Nazafareen makes about the Druj--not to mention her attraction to Darius, who's anything but the monster she imagined he would be--cause her to question whether she's fighting on the side of justice after all.

I don't read a lot of epic fantasy these days, though it constituted almost my entire reading diet when I was younger. Thus it's always a pleasure to discover a fantasy realm that's totally original and compelling, one I can sink into the way I used to sink into the worlds created by Tolkien, Le Guin, McCaffrey, and Donaldson. That's exactly how I felt while reading Ross's novel; the history of the realm, the mythology of the Druj, the physical description of the various environments, and the characterization of the multiple peoples, both evil and good, were so brilliantly realized I felt completely immersed in a "real" place. If I were to draw parallels to contemporary YA fantasies, I'd put THE MIDNIGHT SEA alongside Leigh Bardugo's Grisha trilogy, which similarly is set in an alternative real world (Russia in Bardugo's case) that feels absolutely unique and absolutely convincing. It's a very special writer who can weave such a rich and complex tapestry, and Ross is exactly that.

I was also drawn to Nazafareen--and teen readers, I'm confident, will absolutely love her. She's tough yet vulnerable, so anguished by the loss of her sister she lets herself believe whatever the Water Dogs tell her about the Druj. Her awakening to the true state of affairs is thus an awakening to emotional maturity--to adulthood. And her awakening to the love she feels for Darius perfectly complements her developing awareness of life's complexities. I'm not always a fan of romantic relationships in YA fantasy and science fiction; they often seem perfunctory and distracting, added more for their marketing appeal than their intrinsic value to the narrative. But here, the love between Nazafareen and Darius--like everything else in the book--feels fresh, original, and completely essential to the story being told.

THE MIDNIGHT SEA releases in May, and it's the first book in a series, so there's much more to come. YA Guy for one can't wait to see where this brilliant new story takes me. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

YA Guy Interviews... Amy Allgeyer, author of DIG TOO DEEP!

Today on the blog, YA Guy's thrilled to interview Amy Allgeyer, author of DIG TOO DEEP, which comes out April 1! Amy took the time to answer my questions about her writing process and about the environmental issues in her debut novel, which concerns one teenage girl's effort to fight mountaintop coal mining in a small Appalachian town. You can read my review of this terrific novel right here.

And now, without further ado, here's Amy!

YA Guy: Hi Amy! Welcome to the blog. To start out, I'd love to hear about your journey to publication.

Amy Allgeyer: “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…” That’s how it feels anyway. I decided to write my first book twelve years ago. I landed an agent with that book, but it didn’t sell. Since then, I’ve written many more books, lost an agent, found a dream agent, worked through revisions with agents or editors only to have them change jobs or leave publishing for good before we were finished. All in all, I had pretty much the same journey most authors have. We all get those wicked near-misses and crushing lows. Then we turn around and pour all that into the next book. Or we give up and don’t become authors at all. I very nearly did that, and the only things that kept me going were my crit partners.

YAG: I'm glad you stuck with it, because DIG TOO DEEP tells a really important story. Can you tell us about mountaintop coal mining? How did you get interested in it? How much of a problem is it?

AA: Mountaintop Removal Mining started back in the 1970’s. By 2009, over five hundred mountains had been blasted away. Nearly a million acres of forest are gone. The health issues speak for themselves: people living in MTR communities are fifty percent more likely to die of cancer, and babies born near MTR mines are forty-two percent more likely to have birth defects.

I was born in Kentucky. When I was seven, I moved to North Carolina with my parents but my six brothers and sisters (all older) stayed in KY, so I spent a lot of time driving back and forth through Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky. The Appalachians represent home to me—even now when I live a thousand miles away. So it’s heartbreaking to see them blown apart, and know some special places are gone forever. And since MTR mining creates fewer jobs than traditional mining, it means these communities are stuck with less money, fewer jobs, more sickness, more death… It’s really awful.

YAG: So this sounds like a very important book to you. What was your research process like for DIG TOO DEEP?

AA: Involved! Even beyond the MTR research, there are aspects of the book that I (thankfully) don’t have personal experience with: prison, water testing, meth addiction, extreme poverty. My writing process was like: Write two pages. Google whether prisoners have access to email. Write another page. Google side-effects of methamphetamine addiction. I also depended a lot on my sister’s experiences volunteering in mountain communities in Eastern Kentucky. Her stories were so insightful and gave me a current and realistic picture of what poverty looks like in that area of the country. The cancer…that I know all too well, as my mom died of cancer. Those scenes where Liberty is caring for Granny were some of the hardest I’ve ever had to write.

YAG: They're also some of the best scenes in the novel, and I can tell they come from a very personal place. To shift back to the environmental issues: I’m from Pennsylvania, a major coal-producing state. What would your answer be to someone who said, “We need to continue mining coal to keep the economy strong and to supply the nation’s energy”?

AA: Yes, Pennsylvania has MTR issues, too, as well as fracking, which is another huge concern. To me, the biggest argument against our dependence on coal is just common sense. It’s reported that we have enough world-wide coal reserves to power us for another twenty-three years. Given that we’re going to have to depend on something else so soon, why would we continue to destroy the environment and sicken communities by expanding the search for coal? We should be focusing on alternative energy and what we’re going to do when the fossil fuels run out. The fabrication of products and infrastructure that use alternative energy (like wind, solar, hydro) would create manufacturing and light industrial jobs to replace the mining jobs that those communities so desperately need. It seems like a no-brainer that we should be weaning ourselves off coal now…not continuing to destroy the environment and expecting our kids to come up with something better once they’re the grown-ups.

YAG: I couldn't agree more! So, what’s next for you as a writer?

AA: Well…I have an option book due to my publisher later this year. I’m currently working on a contemporary Southern-gothic YA novel that’s beginning to feel overly epic and out of control. Think “The Thorn Birds” meets “The Sound and the Fury.” Some days, I think I’ve got things under control. Other days, it feels like I’m trying to lasso a rhino with wet spaghetti. So…typical writer’s journey!

YAG: Yes, that sounds painfully familiar! Thanks, Amy, for being on the blog and sharing your stories. Readers, if you want to find out more about Amy and DIG TOO DEEP, here's where to start digging:

Amy Allgeyer was born in Kentucky, the youngest of seven kids. As an architect, she spends her days remodeling hundred year-old homes in Idaho, where she lives with her son, a pound cat named Nightmare, and a fake owl named Alan. She hates chocolate, loves vegetables, and could easily live on hamburgers for the rest of her life. She has a Bachelor’s of Architecture from North Carolina State University, is a member of SCBWI, and an alumnus of the Nevada Mentor Program. She’s represented by Danielle Chiotti, Upstart Crow Literary.

Website: amyallgeyer.com
Twitter @amy7a


Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company
Release Date: April 1, 2016
ISBN-10: 0807515809
ISBN-13: 978-0807515808

Thursday, March 17, 2016

YA Guy Participates in... The "Luck of the Irish" Giveaway!

Little known fact: YA Guy's Irish to the core! Yes, I've got some other nationalities mixed in there, but I'm proud of my Irish heritage, and happy to be participating in a giveaway this St. Patrick's Day. Organized by the blog "I Am a Reader, Not a Writer" and co-hosted by all the great bloggers you see listed below, this giveaway offers you a chance to win that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!
Luck of the Irish

Luck of the Irish $250 Giveaway March 17th to 31st
$250 Amazon.com Gift Code or $250 in Paypal Cash

Sponsor List
I Am A Reader
Magical Cool Cat Mysteries
Kimber Leigh Wheaton
Author MK McClintock
Jennifer Faye - Romance Author
EskieMama Reads
Theresa DaLayne Melissa Haag - YA Author
Glistering Bs Blog
Simple Wyrdings
Why Not? Because I Said So!(Sheila Staley)
Lisa Wainland, Author
Aubrey Wynne: Romantasy Through the Ages
Prism Book Tours
Krysten Lindsay Hager author
Books R Us
Ann Swann
Nikki Jefford
D.E. Haggerty
Lori's Reading Corner
Heather Gray, Author
Author Deb Atwood
Poppy Lawless
Coupons and Freebies Mom
Melanie McFarlane Books
Everly Frost, YA Author
Leora Krygier author
Vicki L. Weavil
Beck Nicholas
Jennifer Bardsley
Stacy Claflin, Author
Diana's Book Reviews
J.L. Weil
Joshua David Bellin
Bella Street Time Travel Romance
Bonnie Blythe Christian Romance
Rockin' Book Reviews
Lonna @ FLYLēF Book Reviews
Author Inger Iversen
Lise McClendon
Annie Cosby, YA Author
Katy Haye
Paisley Piranhas

Giveaway Details

$250 in Paypal Cash or a $250 Amazon.com eGift Card! Ends 3/31/16. Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use money sent via Paypal. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the authors, bloggers and publishers on the sponsor list. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, March 11, 2016

YA Guy... Begins at the Beginning!

As a writer, YA Guy pays careful attention to what I read. I'm also a writing teacher, so that makes me particularly alert to the strengths--and, sometimes, the weaknesses--in published works.

With that in mind, I've decided to launch an occasional series of posts in which I offer writing advice. The occasion will usually be when I notice a common stylistic feature in YA literature that I have a problem with. (Or, who knows, I might also call attention to a particularly effective feature I've encountered.) For today, I'm going to begin at the beginning: by focusing on the word "begin."

The verb "begin," along with its various forms ("began," "beginning," etc.), is totally overused in YA. (As is its cousin "start.") While I'm not averse to the word "begin" in and of itself, I typically find it problematic when it's used in conjunction with another verb, thereby transforming the second verb into an infinitive or a participle. For example:

"He began to feel woozy."

"She begins searching for clues."

I'm sure you've noticed this tendency in YA, where virtually every action (or at least far too many of them) is characterized as having "begun" or "started." So we'll have a paragraph like this:
The monsters begin to climb the cliff toward me. Their maws gape wickedly. I begin to back away, my pulse starting to race. When their enormous, fur-covered bodies clear the top of the cliff, I begin to panic. I turn and, not looking behind me to see how close they are, start running through the forest.
I'm exaggerating to make a point, of course, but you know you've seen this kind of stuff. And it's not good.

Actions always have a beginning (and an end). For that reason, it's not particularly pertinent to call attention to this. In fact, doing so defuses the action, making it secondary to the beginning. Wouldn't it be better to write the above paragraph as follows?
The monsters climb the cliff toward me. Their maws gape wickedly. I back away, my pulse racing. When their enormous, fur-covered bodies clear the top of the cliff, I panic. I turn and, not looking behind me to see how close they are, run through the forest.
Still not great prose, perhaps, but much better.

I said above that I don't have a problem with the word "begin" by itself--nor do I think it can NEVER be used in conjunction with another verb. But I believe YA writers often use it habitually when a better choice could have been made. Instead of "I began Moby-Dick three months ago," why not say, "I spent three months on Moby-Dick"? (Or "I wasted three months on," or "I devoted three months to," etc.) These are all much stronger verbs than the vague and tepid "began."

So let's begin to end beginning with "begin," shall we?

And let's start starting to start our sentences with more interesting, dynamic, in-the-moment verbs.

Friday, March 4, 2016

YA Guy Gives Away... Other People's Books!

YA Guy read a lot of books in February (thanks, extra day!), and that's good.

What's not so good is I now need to clear room on my bookshelves for other books! (If anyone knows of a tesseract bookshelf or something like that, please be in touch.)

So I'm giving away some books. Five of 'em, to be precise. They are, in alphabetical order by author's last name:

THE CAPTURE by Tom Isbell. The second book in the thrilling YA dystopian trilogy that began with THE PREY.

STARFLIGHT by Melissa Landers. A deep-space YA romance by the acclaimed author of the ALIENATED series.

UNHOOKED by Lisa Maxwell. A YA retelling of the Peter Pan story, with a darkly seductive Neverland filled with danger.

WHERE FUTURES END by Parker Peevyhouse. A mind-twisting YA science fiction novel in short stories set ten, then thirty, then sixty, then a hundred years from now.

NEVER, NEVER by Brianna R. Shrum. Another YA Pan retelling, this one with a focus on the boy who will become Captain Hook.

So here's what you've gotta do to win: leave a comment telling me which book you want. (Sorry, you have to choose one!) You've got a week from now, at which point I'll choose a winner for each of the books and then collect mailing information to send them along.

That's it. If you want to follow this blog or follow me on Twitter or add my books to Goodreads or preorder them or whatever, I'm not going to stop you, but that's not a requirement for entering. Likewise, though it would be super nice for you to review these books should you happen to win, I'm not going to be checking up on you.

Now have at 'em! And stop over if you have time to help me build my new bookshelves.