Saturday, December 31, 2016

YA Guy... Looks Back at 2016!

It's been an exciting year for YA Guy, writing-wise and otherwise. Before moving on to 2017, I thought I'd review some of the highlights from 2016.

Writing stuff. The big news this year was the publication of Scavenger of Souls, the sequel to Survival Colony 9. This novel completes the two-part Survival Colony series (though in the back of my evil little brain, I'm thinking of writing a prequel). If you're a teacher or librarian, you can still enter my great Scavenger of Souls giveaway, which runs throughout 2017. And if you're a reader of any kind, you can get pumped for the release of my new novel, the deep space adventure/romance Freefall, which comes out in 2017.

Other writing stuff. In addition to visiting schools and book fairs, I attended several very cool YA conferences this year, including YA Fest in Indiana and the YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) conference in Pittsburgh. It was great meeting other YA authors, librarians, and fans!

Family stuff. I did a lot of vacationing this year, including a trip to Austin to see the X Games with my daughter, a family trip to Niagara Falls, and another family vacation to the U.S. Virgin Islands for a week of snorkeling, snoozing, and sunning. Plus, as research for a novel I'm planning, I drove down to Maryland to visit the Kennedy Farmhouse, where John Brown trained his troops prior to his assault on Harpers Ferry.

Random stuff. I went to some cool concerts this year, including the Who and Bruce Springsteen, which I attended with my son (his first rock concert). I also read exactly 50 books, many of them YA, the best of which are featured in this post.

I'm sure I did some other stuff too, but that's enough for now. Happy New Year to everyone, and YA Guy's looking forward to seeing you in 2017!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

YA Guy Gives Away... a Ton o' Books!

YA Guy reads a lot of books. (It's in the job description.) But alas, YA Guy doesn't have unlimited shelf space, so I give a lot of my books away. It's more fun to share anyway!

Today, as an end-of-year treat, I'm giving away TEN books (mostly YA, though a few would probably count as MG) to one lucky reader. (U.S. addresses only.) All you have to do is enter the Rafflecopter thingy below, which I've made as streamlined as possible so you don't have to plow through twenty-seven different entry options, and on December 30, I'll choose a grand prize winner. Easy-peasy, no?

Here are the great books you can win, listed in reverse alphabetical order by author's last name:

The Daemoniac by Kat Ross. A YA mystery/horror set in late 19th-century New York, where grisly murders that might be demon-inspired are investigated by a young detective.

Flashfall by Jenny Moyer. YA science fiction about a world in which radioactive fallout has produced a society sharply divided between the "naturals" who live in protected cities and the "subpars" who mine the minerals near the deadly flash curtain.

Incognita by Kristen Lippert-Martin. The second book in a YA technothriller series about a girl whose memories have been surgically altered and the hacker who assists her in tracking down the villains.

The Whisper trilogy by Dana Faletti. Three YA paranormal romance novels about teen angels, including Whisper, Wake, and War & Wonder.

The Salvation of Gabriel Adam by S. L. Duncan. The second book in a great YA fantasy trilogy about teen archangels. I'm finishing this book up now, and I'll have a review on the site soon.

Tangled Lines by Bonnie J. Doerr. An eco-mystery involving teens who investigate the slaughter of pelicans in the Florida Keys.

The Only Road by Alexandra Diaz. Based on a true story of two young boys from Guatemala who set out on a perilous journey to the United States

Scavenger of Souls by Joshua David Bellin (yes, that's me). I mean, why not? I've got extras, and it brings the giveaway to an even ten.

So here's the aforementioned Rafflecopter thingy. Enjoy, good luck, and see you in 2017!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, December 19, 2016

YA Guy... Says It with a Smile!

YA literature is full of cliches, and YA Guy's seen 'em all. (Wait, was that a cliche?)

There are plot cliches (teen resistance leader, armed only with a medieval weapon, defeats the technologically-advanced Empire), character cliches (kick-butt heroine! brooding hero! implausibly motivated villain!), symbol cliches (parental hand-me-down with astonishing magical powers). There are also sentence- or word-level cliches, expressions so overused it's hard to find a YA novel without them. I pointed out one such cliche in a previous post ("I let out a breath I didn't know I was holding"), and I'd like to address another today.

This one goes something like: "His smile didn't reach his eyes," or "She smiled, but it didn't touch her eyes." Lots of smiles out there in YA Land that don't make it to the smiler's optic apparatus.

You know you've seen this before. Maybe you've even written it. (I have.) But I think it's time to stop.

I get what the writer's saying. I really do. It sounds silly--as if it were possible for the corners of one's lips to penetrate the cheeks and make physical contact with the eyes--but I do understand that's not what's being implied. The implication is that this is an insincere smile, or a smile without real joy, a perfunctory smile that conveys just the opposite. It's the kind of smile you give your boy/girlfriend when you're ready to break up with him/her, or the kind you throw at your companion right before you jump off a cliff, armed only with a medieval weapon, into a nest of flesh-eating guggernauts. Since it doesn't reach the eyes, and since the eyes (according to another cliche) are the windows to the soul, it's not a very smiley smile. I do get that.

But aren't there other, equally good, or even better ways to say this? Couldn't one describe the smile in more concrete terms? Or couldn't one dispense with the smile and describe some other, more interesting character action that conveys the same thing? Or, heck, if you've done a good job setting the scene and characterizing the characters, do we really need to be told that the character is less than delighted to be taking a plunge into that nest of guggernauts? Shouldn't we be able to figure this out ourselves?

YA Guy thinks so, anyway.

So let's save the smiles, genuine or not, for when they're really needed. Chances are you'll find they're not needed much at all. Surely, at moments of high tension, people can be doing something more captivating than smile at each other, whether they really mean it or not.

I'll make an exception, of course, for when someone's smile actually does reach their eyes. You never know with those guggernauts. They've got really big mouths.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

YA Guy Picks... His 2016 Top Ten!

It wouldn't be the holidays without YA Guy's yearly Top Ten list!

Here, in no particular order (and with no buy links, because I'm celebrating, not selling), are the 10 YA and MG novels I enjoyed most during this past year!

Kat Ross, The Midnight Sea. The first book in an exotic, wondrous alt-historical fantasy featuring genies and the handlers who control (and love) them.

Dianne Salerni, The Morrigan's Curse. The last and best book in the Eighth Day series. And the first two books are among the best MG fantasy I've ever read.

Amy Allgeyer, Dig Too Deep. A contemporary YA about mountaintop removal coal mining and one teen's crusade to stop it in her ailing grandma's small town.

Parker Peevyhouse, Where Futures End. Almost impossible to classify, this collection of linked sci-fi/fantasy stories is sure to surprise.

Jeffry W. Johnston, The Truth. A tense thriller about the cost of lies and the bonds of family. I sped through it in a single night.

Chris Howard, Night Speed. One of my favorite YA science fiction authors, Howard tells an exciting, morally complex tale of a teen special agent who hunts drug-enhanced criminals--and who has to take the same highly addictive drug to track them down.

Eliot Schrefer, Rescued. The third book in Schrefer's planned "ape quartet," this one focuses on an American teen who comes to recognize that his childhood pet orangutan deserves to be returned to the wild.

Margo Kelly, Unlocked. When the main character is hypnotized at a town fair, she starts to see and hear strange things. Is she going crazy, or are there even more sinister, demonic forces at work?

Siobhan Vivian, The List. This book wasn't published in 2016 (though another enjoyable Vivian novel, The Last Boy and Girl in the World, was). But The List, a story of how compulsory standards of beauty affect a group of high school girls, is the Pittsburgh author's best and most disturbing work.

Joshua David Bellin, Scavenger of Souls. Where is it written that I can't include my own novel in my Top Ten list? But seriously, I loved writing this concluding book in the Survival Colony series, and I couldn't resist!

So there you have it, folks! Happy reading, and I'll see you in 2017!


YA Guy