Tuesday, March 31, 2020

YA Guy Participates in... The Spring 2020 YA Scavenger Hunt!

These are tough times for all of us, but one of the things we'll never lose is the love of reading. Which is why I'm happy to be participating in the Spring 2020 YA Scavenger Hunt!

As you can probably tell by all the gold lettering in this post (not to mention the banner at the top), I'm on the GOLD TEAM this time around, 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 GOLD TEAM page, and you can enter for our prize--one lucky winner will receive one e-book or audiobook from each author on our team! (We're doing it that way in order to avoid sending physical copies all over the country and the world.) 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, APRIL 5! (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 GOLD 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, April 5, 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 an e-book copy of the 4 books in the Ecosystem Cycle! 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, BREEANA SHIELDS!

Breeana Shields is an author of fantasy novels for teens including The Bone Charmer, The Bone Thief, Poison’s Kiss, and Poison’s Cage. When she’s not writing, Breeana loves reading, traveling, and playing 22 board games with her extremely competitive family. She lives near Washington D.C. with her husband, her three children, and two adorable, but spoiled dogs.

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

Twitter: @BreeanaShields
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/breeanashieldsauthor/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/breeanashields/

About THE BONE THIEF: A deft exploration of the weight of grief and cost of revenge, Breeana Shields’s Bone Charmer duology reaches its spine-tingling conclusion in this high-octane fantasy-thriller.

To buy the book, follow this link!

The Spring 2020 Hunt is over, and winners have been chosen for the team giveaways and my personal giveaway. Thanks to all for playing!

Thursday, March 12, 2020

YA Guy Interviews... Darlene Beck Jacobson!

One of YA Guy's all-time favorite Middle Grade authors is Darlene Beck Jacobson, author of WHEELS OF CHANGE (2014) and, now, WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY, due out on April 7 from Creston Books. I had a chance to ask Darlene some questions prior to the publication of her new book, and here's what she had to say!

YA Guy: Hi, Darlene, and welcome to the blog!

Darlene Beck Jacobson: Hi, Josh. Thanks so much for hosting me on your blog to talk about my new book WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY.

YA Guy: Happy to have you here! I know that your debut novel, WHEELS OF CHANGE, came out in 2014. What have you been up to since then, and what have you learned about writing and publishing in the interim?

Darlene: I worked on a number of projects that for one reason or other didn’t quite work out. It can be discouraging to try and stay on top of publishing trends and the changes and decisions we authors have no control over. You can either give up, or keep writing. I kept writing and finally found a story that was a perfect match for CRESTON BOOKS--the publisher of my first novel.

YA Guy: I think "never give up" is the best advice aspiring (and established) writers can get! Let's talk about the subject matter you gravitate toward in your writing. Both of your novels are set in the past--the early 20th century in the case of WHEELS OF CHANGE, the Vietnam War era in the case of WISHES. Why are you drawn to historical fiction, and how do you go about researching different time periods?

Darlene: WHEELS OF CHANGE came about after discovering some interesting facts while researching my family tree. WISHES ended up set in the 1960’s when I realized I wanted a modern era, but also a time when kids could be outside all day without parents hovering about. No cell phones, video games to occupy time, just imagination and creative play. I grew up in the 60’s, so the research took me back to my own childhood. So much fun!

YAG: That's really cool--kind of a "write what you know" story. What about the form of WISHES? Why did you decide to tell the story in verse?

Darlene: I didn’t consciously make that decision. The main character, an eleven-year-old boy named Jack, introduced himself to me as I awoke from a dream. He spoke to me in that raw emotion, stream-of-consciousness way from the first moment I met him. He knew exactly what he wanted to say and all I did was write it down in his voice. It was the most amazing way I’ve ever written a story and a total joy to write.

YA Guy: Isn't it amazing how the characters we create end up seeming like real people with their own stories to tell us? And speaking of stories, bullying is a central aspect of the story in WISHES. Why is this issue important to you?

Darlene: For all that has changed in our culture, some things remain the same. Friendship, love, kindness, and acceptance are issues that are important to kids and always have been. Dysfunctional families are not new. Bullying is not new. Finding a way to talk about these issues and offering solutions that children can employ in their own lives seems important.

YA Guy: Definitely--literature has to hit both the timeless and the contemporary. So what's next for you? What are you working on now (or are you too busy and excited preparing for the release of WISHES to be working on anything else)?

Darlene: I am working on a contemporary novel in verse, which is in the early stages yet. The verse format is so intriguing and inviting. I don’t feel like I’m done exploring this form and am excited to be giving it another try.

YA Guy: Sounds great! Thanks again for visiting the blog, and congratulations on the upcoming publication of WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY (a title I love, by the way).

Darlene: Thanks for hosting me, Josh!

All right, readers, if you want to learn more about Darlene Beck Jacobson, here's her bio and social media info!

Darlene Beck Jacobson is a former teacher and speech therapist who has loved writing since she was a girl.  She is also a lover of history and can often be found mining dusty closets and drawers in search of skeletons from her past. She enjoys adding these bits of her ancestry to stories such as her award-winning middle grade historical novel WHEELS OF CHANGE (Creston, 2014) and WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY (Creston 2020).

Darlene lives and writes her stories in New Jersey with her family and a house full of dust bunnies. She’s caught many fish, but has never asked one to grant her a wish. She’s a firm believer in wishes coming true, so she tries to be careful what she wishes for.

Darlene's blog features recipes, activities, crafts, articles on nature, book reviews, and interviews with children’s book authors and illustrators.

Twitter: @DBeckJacobson

ISBN: 978-1-939547-62-0
B&N preorder link

Some reviews:

“Uniquely original and with an important underlying social message for children ages 8-12, Wishes, Dares, and How to Stand Up to a Bully is especially and unreservedly recommended for elementary school, middle school, and community library General Fiction collections.--Midwest Book Review

“Although it's set in the 1960s, the story reflects timeless issues that will resonate with modern readers. A fresh, inspiring exploration of a daunting issue.” --Kirkus

“Its free verse lines crafted with care and concision, the book captures Jack’s emotions, and his 1960s small town setting, because of its sharp attention to detail. References to John F. Kennedy, John Glenn, and Joe DiMaggio round out the period, and the shadow of the war hangs over everything. Still, the children roam unsupervised—fishing, biking, and camping—in a world that is otherwise familiar and safe. They’re dealing with serious issues all the while, from Jill and Cody’s abusive stepfather to Jack and Katy missing their father. By the end, they have all developed the courage and strength to deal with their struggles.

A historical childhood fantasy in verse, Wishes, Dares, and How to Stand Up to a Bully blends light summer fun with deep emotional challenges.”--Forward Magazine