THE EXO PROJECT was reviewed in VOYA Magazine

The Exo Project got a review from VOYA Magazine. (VOYA stands for Voices of Youth Advocates.) I couldn't be happier with the review. It's not online, so I can't link it, but I can share some quotes:

"The Exo Project has a weird, fantastical premise that works very well in DeYoung’s execution. Readers will be sucked into both Matthew and Kiva’s stories as the teens are forced to take on responsibilities that neither wants and struggle against forces beyond their control...In addition to its entertainment value, the book’s greatest strength is its willingness to take on such issues as climate change, bigotry, sexism, violence, and responsibility for the common good."

New Year's Day (observed)

It's New Year's Day (observed). I associate this time of the year with a feeling of being at loose ends, a feeling I attribute not just to the arbitrary milestone of a new set of numbers to put on our checks but also to the fact that by now I've usually spent a lot of time—perhaps too much time—away from work, with no routine to speak of. Add to that the fact of having consumed over the past two weeks far too much sugar, fat, and alcohol, and it's no wonder that I feel a little...off.

The New Year is a time for resolutions, for change. Just look at all those new people on ellipticals at the gym, everyone signing up for #Dryuary, everyone going on crash detox diets. This has always been the way of things, but this year even more than others, the New Year seems to be bringing with it a sense of reevaluation, a need to change fundamental things about who we are and how we engage with the world. We don't want to make the same mistakes we did in 2016.

For me, 2017 is a mixed bag. On the one hand, it will be the year in which my debut novel is published, fulfilling a dream I've had since I first learned to read and write in elementary school. On the other hand, 2017 will be the first in which President-Elect Donald Trump becomes President Donald Trump, a prospect that fills me with all kinds of fear and trepidation and dread for what the world will become.

Some other things the year will hold: my wife and I will turn 34, our daughter will turn 2, I'll meet and see baptized my baby niece. Some things I'd like my year to hold: great reviews and sales for The Exo Project (ha!), finishing a second YA novel for Boyds Mills Press, selling an adult novel (by which I mean a novel for adults, not, like, erotica), reading good books, understanding the world better through good reporting and analysis.

As for my resolutions, my desires for change, this is one: communicating in more purposeful, intentional ways, in mediums suited for nuance, thoughtfulness, and reflection. That means less Tweeting, probably, and recommitting myself to writing in this space, to you.

We'll see. Most of the people on those ellipticals aren't going to last past Valentine's Day.

Either way, my very best wishes to all of you for 2017.

Book updates: New title, official pub date, and more!

It’s been a while since I’ve given an update on my novel. A lot has happened!

First update: I have a new title! The book is now called THE EXO PROJECT. This is taken directly from the book. In the story, the Exo Project is the mission that takes one of my main characters, Matthew, off-Earth to explore a distant exoplanet (a planet outside our solar system) where he meets my other main character, Kiva, the young leader of a matriarchal society there. I think it’s a cool title, and I’m really excited about it.

Second update: THE EXO PROJECT has a publication date! The book will be released to the world on April 4, 2017. That may feel like a long way away right now, but it’ll be here fast.

Third update: I’m basically done with my work on THE EXO PROJECT. The book recently went through copyediting, a stage where a copyeditor takes a fine-toothed comb to the text and looks for any errors and inconsistencies. Next, the book will be designed and typeset, proofread, then printed after a few final rounds of review. With each step in the process, my chances to make changes in the text dwindle, and I get closer to having a final book. It’s exciting and scary at the same time.

That’s it for now, but I’ll have more updates soon. I’ve been looking at cover designs with my publisher, and I really love where it’s going. They picked an illustrator for the cover with a haunting, otherworldly style that’s perfect for the book. When the cover’s ready, I’ll be sharing it—along with the illustrator’s identity—right here. Stay tuned!

I have a book deal!

It's here, my friends, the post I've been wanting to write since I started this blog...

I have a book deal! Boyds Mills Press will be bringing my YA science fiction novel to the world in Fall 2016.

The official Publishers' Weekly announcement can be found here. (Second from the top.)

I'm excited. Nervous, too. And eager to do the work needed to make this book as good as it can possibly be. Hopefully this is just the beginning.

I'll undoubtedly have more updates here as this process continues through the year ahead. Stay tuned!

 

MN Publishing Tweet-Up Interview

The Minnesota Publishing Tweet-Up is one of my favorite local literary events. Run by my good friend Dawn Frederick of Red Sofa Literary, it's a chance for Minnesota literary people to meet up and get to know each other over drinks.

During the month of November, for NaNoWriMo, the folks behind the tweet up continue their mission of bringing readers, writers, and publishing professionals together by profiling people involved in the local lit scene—and today, I'm the one featured! What an honor to be included alongside so many wonderful writers and publishing professionals.

You can read the interview here. Among other things, I talk about: writing, publishing, the MN lit scene, indie bookstores, and (of course) cats!

Enjoy!

What's the deal with my novel? An FAQ

A few weeks back, I announced that I had landed a literary agent for my novel, The Detective's Apprentice. Since I'm a fairly private person who doesn't always share details of my life--like the fact that I was shopping a novel to literary agents or even wrote a freaking novel --this news inspired cries of "WHAAAA you wrote a novel WHO ARE YOU?" from most of my friends.

Since then, I've fielded a bunch of questions about my novel, about literary agents, and about the whole publishing process. I've decided to gather them all in one blog post. Here we go: 

What's the deal with your novel? 

You're going to have to be more specific. 

OK. Let's start with the title.

It's called The Detective's Apprentice. 

What's it about? 

It's about a 16-year-old orphan named Daisy Fuller, living on the streets of 1860s London. One day she begs from a man who turns out to be Charles Becket, London's most brilliant private detective, and instead of giving her spare change he enlists her help in a case. Soon, she's plunged into a murder mystery--one that may end up endangering her and her closest friends. 

Would I like The Detective's Apprentice? 

I hope so! Being a teen wouldn't hurt, since I wrote it for a young adult audience, but people of any age should enjoy it. If you like one or more of the following, then there's a pretty good chance you wouldn't completely hate it: 

  • Stories about orphans
  • Kick-ass heroines
  • Arrogant/brilliant detectives
  • Murder mysteries
  • London
  • The Victorian era

So, what's going on with The Detective's Apprentice? 

The manuscript is done, and I just recently signed with a literary agent. His name is John Rudolph, of Dystel and Goderich Literary Management. 

Cool! So when will the book be published? 

Um....well. It doesn't actually work that way. 

You don't have a book deal? 

Nope. Signing with an agent is not the same as having a book deal.

But it's still a big deal? 

Yes. 

OK. Um, how? 

A literary agent is someone who knows the publishing industry inside and out. They help authors shop their books to publishing houses and hopefully get a book deal--in exchange for a cut of whatever an author makes off the book. Their time and resources are extremely limited, so they're selective about what books, and what writers, they take on as clients.

So, having an agent not only means that I have an advocate helping me navigate the confusing world of publishing--it also means that an industry professional thinks that my manuscript has potential, that someone looked at The Detective's Apprentice  and said, "Yeah, I could pay the bills with that."

But you're not guaranteed to get a book deal? 

Nope. There are no guarantees in life. That goes double for publishing. 

So, what's next? 

What's next is that I'm going to be revising the book.

Holy crap, more revisions? I thought you said you were done.

I suppose I did. Here's the thing: a book is never really "done" until it's published and it's too late to change anything. I made The Detective's Apprentice  as good as I could possibly make it before sending the manuscript to agents; now John's helping me make it even better; and if I land a book deal, I'll certainly go through countless more revisions before my book is published. Revising until your eyes bleed and you come to hate your own book is just part of the territory.

Can I read The Detective's Apprentice?

Sure! *whips out a stack of paper* Just sign this contract legally binding you to buy 50 copies and give it five stars on Goodreads once it's released, and I'll be happy to share the manuscript with you...

*rolling eyes* Ha ha. You are very funny. 

Sorry. 

What can I do to help as you're revising and seeking publication for The Detective's Apprentice?

Aw, aren't you sweet! Liking my Facebook page, following me on Twitter, and inviting others to do the same wouldn't be a bad place to start! 

 

New Story: Silver Bullet at The Molotov Cocktail

I've got a new story up at The Molotov Cocktail. Called "Silver Bullet," it's about a woman married to an alcoholic loser who also happens to be...well, you'll see.

Here's the opener:

The moon is waxing gibbous and Norman still hasn’t fixed the shed. Once a month I lock him up in there and spend the night in the basement, curled in a sleeping bag with a Colt .45 single-action next to me on the concrete floor. We’ve spent a small fortune on the shed, upgrading from vinyl to wood to aluminum, but once he’s changed Norman always manages to find a weak spot, escape, and spread the entrails of some unlucky cow or sheep halfway across the county.

Click to read the whole thing.

One more for 2012

One more little footnote to 2012--I got a story accepted by The Molotov Cocktail! I heard yesterday but the story won't appear until January 1, so I'm not sure if this particular accomplishment belongs to 2012 or 2013. Anyway. I'll send out a link when I have one.

Excited! This is only the second piece of fiction I've ever had accepted for publication, so to me it's still a big deal.

NaNoWriMo Is Over

I started writing a novel in November. I did not finish.

This is the first time that I have ever even halfway participated in National Novel Writing Month, the month every year when aspiring novelists churn out prose in an attempt to finish a novel in 30 days. I told myself at the beginning of the month that I would not be participating--but then, lo and behold, one Sunday I woke up with an idea for a novel that absolutely had to be written, and I went directly to my laptop to begin writing it.

I told myself that I was not participating in NaNoWriMo, just that I happened to be attempting to write a novel in a month that other people happened to identify as NaNoWriMo. So what? So other people were doing this thing, this insane thing. That didn't mean that I had to participate. I was doing my own thing. (Equally insane, perhaps, but still.)

The same time I was telling myself this, telling myself that I was doing my own thing, I was all the time painfully aware that it was NaNoWriMo, that others on my Twitter feed and Google Reader were lobbing missives about their progress over the digital transom--20K words, 30, 40, 50, and beyond.

All the while, I was moving slowly toward having 20,000 words by the end of the month (non-mission accomplished), and realizing that I was not cut out for NaNoWriMo. If I tried to keep pace, I'm still quite certain I would have ended up with 60,000 words of horrible prose, a messy plot, paper-thin characterizations, and a deep, abiding hatred for a story concept that I still think is pretty decent. (And no I'm not going to share it just yet; I'm superstitious like that.)

So I'm glad NaNoWriMo is over, and glad to be continuing to work at a slow but just right (for me) pace.