Brandon Sanderson’s CALAMITY is almost ready to go!

While I was catching up on what’s new with my favorite YA authors this weekend, I found that Brandon Sanderson has the final novel in his RECKONERS series almost in its final form.

The first book in the trilogy, STEELHEART, is hands-down one of the best YA titles in recent memory. Corrupt super-heroes, an underground resistance, and a breakneck pace. The follow-up, FIREFIGHT, was another excellent one.

Sanderson is an unbelievable writer, both in terms of quantity AND quality. His stated goal is to publish at least 2 novels a year.

I love how this blog lets you know just how much time he devotes to writing. He’s stacking story upon story, edit upon edit, and the pace is unbelievable.

Read the whole thing here.

YA & MLK: Civil Rights and Acceptance

YA & MLK: Civil Rights and Acceptance

Written by Grant Goodman, 1/19/2015

Today’s holiday is a moment that is marked by hatred and tragedy, triumph and persistence. The fact that human beings had to fight for their right to be considered equal to other humans is something that never ceases to sicken me. The fact that it still continues to this day is downright depressing.

There is hope, though. The idea of fighting for civil rights finds can be found all over the YA canon. The more we read about this topic, even in fiction, the less likely we are to continue the cycle in real life.

I’ll start with the Harry Potter series. In Harry’s world, there is a hierarchy of blood purity that some still follow. To these wizard, pure humans are, of course, the lowest form, but they still reserve their hatred for wizards who are born to fully-muggle parents. The slur word for them, “mudblood,” is one that cuts deep. While there is no de-facto protest movement in the Harry Potter novels, there is still the matter of these wizards standing up for themselves.

Since Mockingjay Part I is still in theaters, let’s go ahead and examine the Hunger Games trilogy. The citizens of Panem, those who reside in the poorer districts, are all enslaved. They are fenced in, cut off, under curfew, and subjected to cruel and unusual punishment by those in charge. Regardless of skin color, the residents of the lower districts are marginalized, demonized, and broken by the existing social structure of their world.

There are the people of Ishval in Hiromu Arakawa’s manga, Fullmetal Alchemist, whose homeland is taken over by a mighty military. The Smokies in Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies are yet another persecuted group. Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series has its skaa. And while few people have read it, I have always loved Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Eye of the Heron for its amazing story of a space colony caught up in its own civil rights movement.

The worlds of YA mirror our own in many ways. There are tales of oppression, messages about “the other” and the ways in which they are ostracized, stories of interplanetary love. They all come to the same conclusion: hatred for your fellow man (or alien or cyborg or ghost or robot) is one of the universe’s darkest traits. We will always explore these conflicts, because our own sad history is rife with them. One of the best ways to deal with it—to learn to move forward—is to familiarize yourself with the struggles of others so you can empathize with them. That way, when it’s time to figure out what is right, you’ll know where you need to stand.

VIDEO: Brandon Sanderson Wrote HOW MANY Novels Before He Was Published?????

It’s a kind of a scary thought: Brandon Sanderson had written 12 full manuscripts before one of them was accepted and he became a published author.

Thankfully, he broke through, and now book 2 of his phenomenal YA series is out.  (And go here to listen to an audiobook sneak-peek of FIREFIGHT.)

Check out this video and learn more about a talented writer who had to push on despite receiving mountains of rejection letters from publishers. The music is pretty cheesy, the words are great.

BONUS POST: Audiobook Clip from FIREFIGHT by Brandon Sanderson

Written by Grant Goodman, 1/6/2015

Brandon Sanderson is one of my favorite authors. His YA novel, STEELHEART, was easily in the top 5 YA titles I read in 2014. It was a fast-paced, emotionally charged romp through a world full of superheroes gone bad. You can check out a more in-depth review HERE.

Today is the release of the sequel: FIREFIGHT.

The kind people at Audible have offered me and my readers a sample clip of the audiobook release. Give it a listen!

AUDIO BOOK PREVIEW: SKIN DEEP by Brandon Sanderson (Courtesy of Audible.com)

Hey everyone! One of my favorite authors, Brandon Sanderson, has a new story coming out! As of today, it is available as a FREE AUDIOBOOK release from Audible.com. Follow this link to download your copy!

Here’s a 5 minute sample, narrated by the fantastic Oliver Wyman:

Brandon Sanderson is one of my favorite authors (see my review of STEELHEART here) and this new novella about a detective and his ghostly companions is sure to be another amazing tale.

Thank you to Esther Bochner of Audible for making this sample clip available.

The Importance of a Sense of Wonder

The Importance of a Sense of Wonder

Written by Grant Goodman, 10/5/2014

“Stuff your eyes with wonder”

-Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

Look, I’m not against mainstream fiction. I read a lot of it. My stack of books that I’ve read includes plenty that focus on people in New York, trying to deal with the daily pressures of life. They’re great reads. But they don’t spark up a sense of wonder. Most of the time, they hit me with character loss and disappointment, followed by a brief flash of triumph. That’s the connection.

The YA lit I tend to read still has those emotional moments. In addition, though, it feeds my imagination in a way that fills with me awe.

For comparison: mainstream fiction is like a real-life candy factory, full of loud, metallic machines and conveyor belts. YA genre fiction, however, is Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, stuffed to the brim with wild ideas and impossibilities.

I need places like Hogwarts, with its nearly-headless ghosts and its moving staircases. I need inventions like the anti-gravity tech in Steelheart. I need to know that Tally has access to toothbrush pills in Uglies. I want to see Edward Elrich use his alchemy.

Those are the ideas that exist outside the ordinary. They’re a reminder that we can color outside the lines. They push the boundaries of what we accept and they make us think about whether or not we can make those little pieces of fiction into reality. To me, they’re as necessary as oxygen and music. Without them, everything is gray around the edges.

So what are the YA creations and inventions that you’ve come to love? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section.

Seal of Approval: STEELHEART by Brandon Sanderson

Seal of Approval – STEELHEART by Brandon Sanderson

Written by Grant Goodman, 9/28/2014

When a small percentage of humanity developed superpowers, there was hope that the people would use them for good. Instead, they chose to abuse their powers and crush humanity beneath them. David is one of the normal humans, living in Newcago, under the rule of Steelheart. And while Steelheart has proven to be absolutely invincible, has defeated every challenger without injury, David has witnessed something no one else has: he has seen Steelheart bleed.

David’s goal is to join up with the Reckoners, a band of humans dedicated to assassinating the overlords and freeing those who live in terror. He wants to make Steelheart bleed once more.

Full disclosure: reading Brandon Sanderson’s work will change you. The man is an amazing writer and, despite the self-deprecation on the Writing Excuses podcast, he is one of the top writers in ANY field, not just YA. (Seriously, read Mistborn.) Side note: if you are a writer, those podcasts are golden for gaining insight into the craft.

This book, his first foray into YA, is a heart-pounding, action-packed romp through a devastated future version of Chicago. David has seen his father die at the hands of Steelheart, he has watched as Steelheart’s right-hand men walk around like kings and treat others like slaves.

When David crosses paths with the Reckoners, it’s a messy introduction, and it has the chance to ruin their shot at assassinating an important figure in the city. But he has goals and he isn’t going to let anything get in his way.

I read this book in two days and I am sure that when the sequel drops in January, I’ll be doing something similar.