Sunday, November 5, 2017

YA Guy Rants about... Acknowledgments!

YA Guy's pretty old-fashioned. There are some things I think you should keep to yourself: sex, family secrets, religion. I just don't think these are anyone else's business.

But obviously, not everyone agrees. Popular memoirs are full of dirt about parental abuse. Daytime talk shows are all about who fathered which baby. Elected officials vie publicly for the title of Holier Than Thou.

As an author, there's one form of such public displays I find particularly off-putting.

I've noticed a trend in acknowledgments pages--especially YA acknowledgments pages, but maybe that's because I mostly read YA these days--toward thanking the Christian God first (and/or last) for various things, usually not only for the book but for the writer's existence. Here's a recent example:

"First and foremost, I want to thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for leading me through the darkest parts of the wood and bringing me out safely on the other side. You are my peace, my comfort, my strength. Apart from You, I can do nothing."

I've gotta tell you, this kind of stuff irks me. Leave aside my built-in distaste for airing one's religious beliefs to the world. There's a point at which such self-abasing humility starts to sound like boastfulness, as in, "I'm so special--God chose ME!" It rather reminds me of the folks who show up at my front door from time to time, shoving their literature in my face and benevolently telling me that they're here to spread the good word. I'm not polite to these people. I tell them to get the h*** off my porch.

Now, I know the two situations aren't really comparable. The door-to-door evangelists are trying to convert me. The authors of acknowledgments such as the above are (probably) doing no more than expressing their deeply felt convictions on the page, which is something authors do on every page. Still, I find it in poor taste.

If you don't, that's fine. As the headline says, I'm just ranting, not trying to change anyone's mind. Maybe, in so doing, I'm guilty of the same thing I'm objecting to: broadcasting my philosophical (if not religious) beliefs. That's certainly open to discussion.

But from now on, I think I'm going to read the acknowledgments first. A casual thanks to the author's deity probably won't turn me off. If I find a full-out confessional, testimonial, or ecstatic vision, though, I'll likely set the book aside for something more to my taste.

Hey, we all have our sacred cows.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

YA Guy Interviews... Lisa Maxwell, author of THE LAST MAGICIAN! (Plus a giveaway!)

YA Guy's had the good fortune to share a stage with several bestselling YA authors: James Dashner, Kristin Cashore, and others. (Well, okay, maybe I didn't quite share the stage with them; they were the headliners and I was just one of many fellow panelists.) But I've never had the chance to hang out with a bestseller who also happens to be a friend.

Until now, that is. Because the ultra-fabulous Lisa Maxwell, bestselling author of THE LAST MAGICIAN and other magical, marvelous YA tales, is my buddy from way back when we debuted in Fall 2014. And recently, I had a chance to chat with her about her book.

But why stop with a chat? I'm also raffling off a signed copy of THE LAST MAGICIAN, which is simply one of the best YA historical fantasies out there. Don't believe me? Here's my review.

So, let's hear from Lisa first, and then you can enter the giveaway via the Rafflecopter thingie below.

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

THE LAST MAGICIAN is a bigger book than any of your previous books, not only in terms of sheer length but in the complexity of the plot, the multiple points of view, the historical background, and so on. Do you think this reflects your maturation as a writer? Or was this book something you'd been saving up all along?

Lisa Maxwell: I think it definitely reflects the experiences of writing my first three books. I have one book that’s shelved where I tried to do a multiple perspective, interwoven story, and I think that mistakes I made trying to write that one very much helped me figure out how to write this one. That being said, I didn’t originally start out to write this book as complexly as it turned out. At first, I thought I was just writing a dual POV with Harte and Esta, but the other characters and their stories and arcs were too complex and essential to the main story to leave out.

YAG: I love the historical richness of THE LAST MAGICIAN, and I know that some of the minor characters (e.g., J. P. Morgan) were actual historical figures. But what about the principal characters? Were any of them either real people or based on real people?

LM: Actually, kind of? I took some of my inspiration for Harte’s background from a book called A Pickpocket’s Tale. It was written by a guy named George Washington Appo, who was a pickpocket and common green games runner in the city, who was also literate enough to write his autobiography. Harte isn’t him, of course, but some of his background was an inspiration for Harte’s backstory. Dolph Saunders was a real guy, but I mostly just stole the name since I really loved the way it sounded. Dolph is a compilation of a couple different historical gang leaders. As for Esta and the rest—they’re all mine.

YAG: I also love time-travel narratives, but I know they can be tricky to write. Did you encounter any specific challenges or plot problems with this aspect of the novel? If so, how did you resolve them?

LM: Everything was a problem. Time travel is so much harder to write than I thought it was when I came up with the idea of making Esta a time traveler. Originally, I hadn’t planned on my thief to be a time traveler, but once I settled on the setting, I realized there was probably no way, historically speaking, that Esta could be the person I imagined with the sensibilities I wanted her to have if she were born and raised in the late 19th century. 

The biggest challenges, though, were rules I imposed on myself. I needed her to have limitations to how and when she could travel, or else she could just magically time travel back to the beginning of the Order and solve everything before it starts. But those limitations meant that I had to make sure there weren’t any inconsistencies in the rest of the book. Don’t even get me started on multiple timelines and time travel paradoxes. The whole thing makes my head hurt, and I’m nowhere close to done thinking about it yet.

Though, I will say that I have solved one paradox/multiple timeline issue AND managed to create a twist that I’m really, really happy about for the next book.

YAG: I can't wait to read it! Thanks again for visiting the blog!

LM: Thanks so much for having me!

Readers, if you want to find Lisa on the web, visit her at And for a chance to win a signed copy of THE LAST MAGICIAN, enter below. The contest is U.S. only, and it runs from now through Halloween (fitting for a book about magic)!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

YA Guy Participates in... the Fall 2017 YA Scavenger Hunt!

YA Guy's super excited to participate in this year's FALL YA SCAVENGER HUNT! Not only is Fall my favorite time of year, but I've got a brand-new book out, the YA science fiction adventure FREEFALL, which released September 26. So I'm totally ready for the Hunt, and I trust that you are too! (I mean, why else would you be here if you weren't?)

As you can probably tell by all the purple lettering in this post (not to mention the banner at the top), I'm on the PURPLE TEAM, 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 PURPLE 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 SEVEN 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 OCTOBER 8! (My personal giveaway, though, will run a little longer, until October 10.)


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 purple 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 8, 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 copy of my new novel FREEFALL! Like the Hunt itself, this personal giveaway is open internationally. Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter!

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

New York Times bestselling author of the Library Jumpers series, the Fated series, and Thunderstruck, creator of #PitchWars, #PitchMadness, and #PitMad, fueled by 22 cups of coffee and Goldfish crackers (but not together), and represented by Peter Knapp with The Park Literary Group.

To find out more about Brenda, go to her website at

About GUARDIAN OF SECRETS: Being a Sentinel isn’t all fairy tales and secret gardens.

Sure, jumping through books into the world’s most beautiful libraries to protect humans from mystical creatures is awesome. No one knows that better than Gia Kearns, but she could do without the part where people are always trying to kill her. Oh, and the fact that Pop and her had to move away from her friends and life as she knew it.

And if that isn’t enough, her boyfriend, Arik, is acting strangely. Like, maybe she should be calling him “ex,” since he’s so into another girl. But she doesn’t have time to be mad or even jealous, because someone has to save the world from the upcoming apocalypse, and it looks like that’s going to be Gia.

Maybe. If she survives.

To buy the book, follow this link!


The Hunt's over, but my personal giveaway for a chance to win a signed copy of my new YA science fiction adventure FREEFALL runs until October 10!

About FREEFALL: When the 1% and the 99% clash, the fate of the human race hangs on the actions of two teens from very different backgrounds in this thrilling sci-fi adventure.

In the Upperworld, the privileged 1% are getting ready to abandon a devastated Earth. And Cam can’t wait to leave. After sleeping through a 1,000-year journey, he and his friends will have a pristine new planet to colonize. And no more worries about the Lowerworld and its 99% of rejects.

Then Cam sees a banned video of protesters in the Lowerworld who also want a chance at a new life. And he sees a girl with golden eyes who seems to be gazing straight through the feed at him. A girl he has to find. Sofie.

When Cam finds Sofie, she opens his eyes to the unfairness of what’s happening in their world, and Cam joins her cause for Lowerworld rights. He also falls hard for Sofie. But Sofie has her own battles to fight, and when it’s time to board the spaceships, Cam is alone.

Waking up 1,000 years in the future, Cam discovers that he and his shipmates are far off-course, trapped on an unknown and hostile planet. Who has sabotaged their ship? And does it have anything to do with Sofie, and the choices—and the enemies—he made in the past?

Order on Amazon
Add to Goodreads

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

YA Guy Releases... FREEFALL!

That's right, folks: today is release day for YA Guy's deep-space adventure FREEFALL!

It seems like forever ago that I first conceived this book--and in fact, I originally drafted it back in 2013, the first time I participated in NaNoWriMo. Then there was the year I set it aside to work on other projects, then the year of revising, then the acceptance by my publisher in early 2016, then the interminable wait for the actual publication.... But it's here now, and I hope you'll agree it was worth the wait!

To celebrate the release of FREEFALL, here are some things you can do:






You can also take a picture of the book and post it to social media, or help spread the word by tweeting, reblogging, chatting with friends, or whatever. If you post a picture of the book online and tag me to make sure I see it, I'll send you one of these cool prop-replica packs as a thank you!

I hope you enjoy FREEFALL, and thanks for helping me launch it to the stars!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

YA Guy Creates... A FREEFALL Glossary!

It's less than two weeks until the September 26 release of FREEFALL, and YA Guy's getting excited!

Since FREEFALL takes place in the twenty-second century, lots of things have changed in terms of politics, culture, technology, and media—and the language has adapted to reflect those changes. Here's an alphabetical list of some of the terms that have arisen in the world of Cam Newell and Sofie Patel. (Italicized words can be found in the list.)

Adjournalist: a paid propagandist who circulates falsified news accounts in the financial interest of one or more of Earth’s corponations.

CanAm: an Upperworld corponation, responsible for administering the former nations of North America.

Catastrologist: a combination of meteorologist and mystic who predicts future outcomes, typically of a catastrophic nature, at the behest of one or more of Earth’s corponations.

Centurion: a biomechanical soldier employed in outer space by JIPOC.

Chatshow: a talk show on the worldlink, offering viewer interactivity through selfone interface.

Classification: a corponational training program for all Upperworld children, taking the place of the banned public and private educational systems.

Close supervision: a euphemism for military attacks on Lowerworld sites believed to harbor dissidents.

ColPrep: an abbreviation for Colonization Preparation, the physical and mental training regimen required of Upperworld residents chosen to depart Earth on a mission to colonize outer space.

ConGlo: a Lowerworld corponation, responsible for administering the former nations of Central Africa.

Cons Piracy: a rogue group of computer hackers who attempt to leak top-secret data held by one or more of Earth’s corponations.

Corponation: a corporate entity that has taken over the functions of government (territorial management, population control, distribution of wealth, etc.) and that operates on a for-profit basis.

Data Recruitment Specialist: an Upperworld technician who performs the functions of a scientist, engaging in corponation-funded research to support profitable initiatives.

Deepsleep: a form of suspended animation, developed in part by Cam’s mother, that enables deep-space colonists to survive voyages much longer than the span of a human life.

ExCon: an Upperworld corponation, responsible for administering the former nations of western and northern Europe and Russia.

Frackia: a Lowerworld corponation, responsible for administering the former nations of southern Africa.

Funding Fathers: the revered ancestors who established the underlying principles and secured the original financial security of the Upperworld.

INTERCOLPA: the Intercorponational Colonization Protection Agency, responsible for overseeing security surrounding the deep-space colonization mission and for deporting or incarcerating perceived threats to the mission.

JIPOC: the Joint Intercorponational Panel on Otherworld Colonization, the Upperworld conglomerate that pursues and finances the mission to colonize space.

Lower-life: a derogatory term for a resident of the Lowerworld (plural Lower-lifes).

Lowerworld: the 99% of the world’s population that lacks access to wealth and basic resources, geographically separated from the Upperworld.

MediTerri: an Upperworld corponation, responsible for administering the former nations of southern and eastern Europe and North Africa.

Megazine: an entertainment site on the worldlink, offering paid access to media content, tabloid news, and consumer products.

MexSanto: a Lowerworld corponation, responsible for administering the former nations of South and Central America.

MicroNasia: a Lowerworld corponation, responsible for administering the former nations of the far East.

Nanoroids: injectable nanotechnologies that build muscle mass and bone density while enhancing endurance, balance, agility, and nerve conduction velocity.

Nanoserum: any of a number of nanotherapies delivered through injection.

New York CITI: New York Central Intercorponational Telecom Interface, the hub of the worldlink, located at the site of the former New York City.

Peace Corp.: a private paramilitary force employed by Earth’s corponations to suppress individual liberties and political activism in the Upperworld and Lowerworld.

Plutocrats and Publicans: two defunct political parties from the waning ages of the old world, when governments rather than corponations ruled the planet.

PMP: Primary Medical Personnel, an Upperworld technician who performs the functions of a physician (often aided by an AMP or Auxiliary Medical Personnel).

Privacar: a privately owned vehicle, extremely rare due to its financial and environmental impacts and thus the prerogative solely of the super-rich.

Selfone: an advanced version of a cell phone, providing instant access to the worldlink along with other functions.

SubCon: a Lowerworld corponation, responsible for administering the former nations of southern Asia and the Indian subcontinent.

Techgame: a video game played on the worldlink, with full immersive VR and interactivity among multiple players engaged with each other either synchronously or asynchronously.

Terrarist: an individual or member of a group who engages in violent political resistance, ostensibly in the interest of preserving the planet Earth (Terra).

Terra Tank: a slang term for Centurion.

TranSpeaker: a hovering device that enables speakers of different languages to communicate.

UniVers: an Upperworld corponation, responsible for administering the former Australia.

Upperworld: the 1% of the world’s population that has monopolized access to wealth and essential resources, and that plans to abandon Earth to colonize outer space.

Worldlink: the twenty-second century equivalent of the internet, providing entertainment and indoctrination on public channels, and strictly regulated to prevent unlicensed content from being viewed by the general population.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

YA Guy Says... ARGH!!! to ARCS

ARCs. Advance reader (or review) copies. You know 'em. You love 'em. You need 'em.

YA Guy hates 'em.

Well, let's clarify that. I don't have a problem with ARCs as such. In fact, it's kind of thrilling to see your book in physical form for the first time, even if it's a flimsy paperback and the text will probably undergo changes ranging from minor to ginormous before the actual book is published. I understand, too, why others like ARCs: a chance to read and review a book before it's on the shelves. Some people collect ARCs. And publishers keep churning them out in hopes of generating buzz and early reviews.

But I've got to tell you, my personal experience with ARCs has been an exercise in frustration.

With FREEFALL, I received about 20 ARCs (not to mention the digital ARCs on NetGalley). Being a good boy, I sent out emails to various reviewers in my genre, asking if they'd like a physical or digital ARC. Many reviewers responded enthusiastically, so I sent them the ARC of their choice. Then I sat back and waited for the reviews to roll in.

Which they didn't.

I got a few reviews, sure. Some were very positive, some weren't. That's life. The not-so-positive reviews aren't what I'm annoyed about.

It's the people who don't review the book at all. Ever.

I sent follow-up emails to those who'd requested an ARC. Several responded with firm or tentative review dates. Most, however--if they responded at all--told me that they were too busy to review, or something had come up, or they'd changed their minds. No review for you, kid. Sorry, better luck next time!

This bothers me. And not because it signifies that I'm not a big enough name to merit instant reviews. For all I know, this happens to everyone. But it shouldn't happen to anyone.

Look, I'm busy too. Things come up for me. And I have been known to change my mind from time to time.

But when someone asks me if I'll review their ARC and I agree to do so, I review the darn thing. I recognize that it costs the author (or somebody) money to mail me that ARC, and I also recognize that if I take it, someone else who might have reviewed it doesn't get it. If I'm honestly too busy or foresee that the book's not quite up my alley and I might change my mind about reviewing it, I tell the author or publisher not to send it to me.

We all know of the dishonest things that happen with ARCs. Some people request them only to sell them online. Others, even worse, digitize them and then give them away on free download sites. I can't do anything about those people, who are either outright crooks or just plain jerks.

But to the people who are less criminal than inconsiderate, I'd ask that you remember the investment the author makes in her or his writing, along with the expectation that's attached to the ARC she or he sent to you. It's not a formal contract, of course. You're not REQUIRED to read and review it. If the author was the one who made the initial overture, you might think you have no real obligation to review it. But wouldn't that be the right thing to do? The nice thing to do?

In any event, I think I've finally wised up. For my next book, I'll either survive without ARCs or go digital only. I really don't have the time or money to be shipping books to people who plan to use them only to prop up the furniture.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

YA Guy Launches... FREEFALL!

YA Guy's newest science fiction novel, FREEFALL, hits the shelves next month (September 26, to be exact), so I'm celebrating a few days early with a launch party on September 24. If you're in or near the Pittsburgh area, please stop by--there will be good conversation, signed books for sale, food and drink, and cool giveaways (I promise).

Hope to see you there!