Tag Archives: The Younger Days

Spring Into April Dollar Special

ATTENTION: Middle Graders! (And/or parents, teachers, and librarians of the aforementioned middle-grade-aged young persons.) I invite you to my Spring Into April special which offers a fine eBook copy of THE YOUNGER DAYS for about a dollar, depending on which online store you wish to shop at.

I happen to highly value a dollar. Okay, okay…I’m a cheapskate by nature and genetics. Still, I understand how important a dollar is.

To celebrate the value of a dollar and the most awesome, highly anticipated arrival of spring, my publisher is offering the eBook version of THE YOUNGER DAYS (in any format) for a single dollar this week, March 28 – April 4, 2014.


If you’re wondering why you should part ways with your dollar in exchange for THE YOUNGER DAYS…

10 Reasons to Spend a Dollar and Buy the Book

1. Win $$$, bling, cha-cha-ching.

  • Buy THE YOUNGER DAYS (or if you have already bought/read the book) and then enter a super random drawing to win a $15 gift card to your choice of MuseItYoung bookstore or Amazon. Abiding by the code of honor, send me a message of your purchase. You can enter with a comment on this blog, on my Facebook page, or send me a Twitter message (@coachhays64).

2. Enrich your springtime with outlaws, border ruffians, Spencer repeating rifles, and a fairly fierce set of meek, mild-mannered parents.

3. Justify not cleaning your room by reading the book while relaxing on the patio.

4. Take comfort in the fact that even in 1874, there were kids who thought they knew more than their parents.

5. Find out what a Bushwhacker is.

6. Can honestly tell your teacher you are “enriching your mind”, not playing games on your electronic device.

7. Redemption stories = Awesome sauce.

8. The Border War. Kansas vs. Missouri in a no-holds barred, drag down, knockout fight between neighbors who hate each other. Can you say “drama”?

9. Reading from a $1.00 book stays in your brain cells, eating from a $1.00 value menu stays in your adipose cells.

10. When done with the 78 page eBook you will: (choose one)

  1. … want more.
  2. …experience a tremendous satisfaction upon digesting a fine piece of middle grade historical fiction.
  3. …think this Hays guy is a putz.

So, if you have an extra dollar, I invite you to check out THE YOUNGER DAYS at one of these links:

MuseItUp Bookstore








Don’t forget to enter the drawing for the $15 gift certificate by sending me a message and/or commenting on this blog, my Facebook page, or on Twitter (@coachhays64).

Thank you for your support.

A Banner Banner

Lea Schizas, my editor and publisher at MuseItYoung Publishing, sent this cool banner today she made for THE YOUNGER DAYS.


Doesn’t this just make you want to read the book?

Kid Lit Giveaway Hop

May 13-19 is Children’s Book Week! One of the greatest week-long celebrations of the year. A tribute to the magnificent world of children’s literature, my personal favorite continent on Planet Literature.

For the greater majority of us, Kid Lit is at the root of our love of reading; it’s where it all began and as parent or teacher or librarian or author, we fall for it over and over again. I bet each of us can list and handful of books from the juvenile literature shelves which were major factors in the development of our love of story.

Children’s books are marvelous and fantastic things. They bring us knowledge and experiences and take us on memorable journeys. They stoke the fires of imagination and language, and show us the beauty in the everyday mundane to the extraordinary magical.

I write middle grade kid lit, mostly from a boy point of view. It is the way I see the stories rolling around in my head. From my own past as a slow, reluctant boy reader, I hope I write stories that appeal to that section of the young reading community.

To celebrate Children’s Book Week in proper fashion, I’m participating in a wonderful event hosted by Mother Daughter Book Reviews and Youth Literature Reviews called the Kid Lit Giveaway Hop.


Hosted by:

Mother Daughter Book Reviews

Youth Literature Reviews

Mike Hays Books Giveaway

In honor of Children’s Book Week, I will give away a $10 Amazon Gift Certificate to spend on whatever your heart desires at the Big A, maybe even on a wonderful book (may I suggest my THE YOUNGER DAYS and/or other books from  MuseItYoung imprint of MuseItUp Publishing).

To the victor shall go the spoils, so the winner will be a randomly selected person who leaves their all-time favorite children’s book title and author in a comment on this post.

Please, only one title/author entry per comment, so if you’re like me and have a super-tie of your many, many favorites, enter many, many comments. Deadline for entries is the stroke of midnight on May 19, 2013.

Happy Children’s Book Week! A big thank you to the hosts of this Kid Lit Giveaway Hop. Be sure to check out the Linky List of KidLit Awesomeness to visit other sites participating.

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Click here to view this Kid Lit Giveaway Hop Linky List.


Again, the leader spoke. “Last time. With your son’s life in the balance, do you confess to being the notorious murdering scoundrel, Butcher Bryant?”

Pa looked at me again. He bowed his head, not in defeat but rather in prayer. After a few moments, he again raised his eyes to meet mine. “Son, I am sorry you have to hear this. But you must remember I will always love you and your ma.” He sat up tall and proud in the saddle, and said to the leader, “Sir, I am indeed…”


A shotgun blast broke the tension, and everyone jumped. Sophie started forward but settled as she felt the tension from Pa’s noose. Ma strode out of the barn. She cracked open the double barrel shotgun, kicked out the spent shell with her index finger, grabbed a new shell from her dress pocket and reloaded. She snapped the gun back together and aimed it right at the leader’s chest. Ma walked within ten feet of him. “Let them go and get out of here.”

She turned to me being held by the bearded man. “You okay, son?”

“Yes, ma’am,” I answered.

“You,” she said to the scraggly man. “Untie that noose and get my husband down from there.”

The scraggly man looked to his leader, who nodded for him to do it.

“What are you going to do, shoot us all?” mocked the leader.

“No. Just you,” Ma answered.

The leader took a step toward Ma. “You ain’t got the nerve, lady.”

Another step… “Shooting people at this close of range.”

Another step… “Especially with a shotgun…”

One more step closer… “Ain’t a very pretty sight or a very easy thing to do.”

Ma toughened her resolve, but the man took one slow step after another toward her. She leaned her weight into the shouldered shotgun, ready to pull the trigger.

“Don’t, Mary,” yelled Pa. “It’s not worth it!”

The leader stopped in his tracks about two steps from the barrel of the shotgun, which began to tremble in Ma’s hands.

“They’ll lynch you for sure, Bill.” Ma said. “God forbid I stand around and watch them without a fight.”

She turned her head toward Pa. With her attention momentarily down, the leader sprang forward. He grabbed the barrel of the shotgun and pushed it toward the night sky. Ma pulled the trigger. Confusion broke. The bearded man, with me still trapped in the crook of his arm, backed up until he was within arms reach of Sophie. The scraggly man sprang into action and grabbed Ma’s arms from behind. The leader jerked the shotgun from her grasp. He held the shotgun by the barrel, and with an evil grin on his face, he stared at Pa. Then, the leader, apparently in full control of the situation again, made the most horrific mistake of his life. He wound up and swung the shotgun by the barrel in an arc upward toward Ma. The stock caught Ma across the side of the face. She immediately went limp and crumpled to the dirt.

AUTHOR: Mike Hays
PUBLISHER: MuseItUp Publishing
MuseItUp Bookstore
Amazon Link

Faction Fiction

Faction? It is a little mental game I have played since I was young. It is fiction based on a fact. Take a fact and build a storyline around it. Over the years, it’s become one of my favorite writing exercises. Sometimes, those faction exercises grow legs and begin to walk (or run) on their own. That is exactly what happened with my MuseItYoung debut novel, THE YOUNGER DAYS.
Fact Number One
A relative told me of a family legend handed down from an old uncle, who grew up in the late 1800’s on a southwest Missouri farm. According to the story, the infamous outlaws Cole and Jim Younger spent the night in their barn while on the run from Pinkerton detectives after the James-Younger gang robbed a bank.
I began to see things from a young boy’s POV and a story began to fall in place.  The Younger brothers would be outlaw heroes of the boy main character while his parent’s would lead a life completely against anything to do with rebels or outlaws. The story started to walk, but it was still a short story at best.
Fact Number Two
“All from least to greatest shall know me says the Lord, for I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sin no more.” -Jeremiah 31:34.
 In church one Sunday, the readings included the above verse. Through this simple verse about redemption and forgiveness, the story took off. A whole back story began to grow of a secret past shared between the parents and the outlaws. A past intertwined with the atrocities of the Border War battle for “Bloody” Kansas with it’s gangs of ruffians, Quantrill’s Raiders from Missouri and Doc Jennison’s Redlegs from Kansas. And from the POV of the young boy, who knows nothing of this hidden past, it set up a very solid framework to build an interesting surprise visit by his heroes, the Youngers. With this setup in place, the ideas really began to flow and my novel was born.
So, you see, there really are no trivial facts. With a little imagination and some creative faction juice, even a seemingly insignificant piece of information can blossom into a complete work of fiction.

Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval Award

THE YOUNGER DAYS is a recipient of the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval award.

Having the CWG Seal of Approval means if someone doesn’t like THE YOUNGER DAYS,  the Pope sends in the Swiss Guard to defend the honor of the Vatican (and the book).

No, I’m only kidding. The CWG Seal of Approval award assures a book supports Catholic beliefs and values, which helps bookstores and readers evaluate the book.

Thanks to the Catholic Writer’s Guild SOA committee for this award. It is a tremendous honor to have THE YOUNGER DAYS in such a great company.

Dad As Hero

One of the central themes of my book, The Younger Days, is the often unlikely but mostly realized theme of the father as a hero. The main character in The Younger Days, Boy Smyth, initially sees his father as a coward and is embarrassed by him. Sure, his pa is righteous, respectful and kind, but in Boy’s eyes, he pales in comparison to the raucous and loudmouth Border War veterans who brag on their war stories. In the end, Boy discovers his father is much more than he appears to be after he is forced to reveal his past to save his family.

The inspiration for the dad as hero theme in The Younger Days came from two main sources. The first inspiration was my own dad, who was a civil engineer for the state highway department. I always knew he was good at what he did. I just never realized how good he was until I spent a couple summers during college working in a different section of the highway department. Everyone, and I mean everyone, Dad dealt with, from the lowest entry-level worker up to the director, held him in the utmost respect and esteem.

The second inspiration came in the relationship between Jem and Atticus in To Kill A Mockingbird, one of my favorite books. The turning point in their relationship comes when the sheriff defers to Atticus the shot to put down the rabid dog. Jem is thinking what an awful mistake the sheriff made in trusting his father just as the shot rings down the deserted street and Atticus kills the dangerous animal with one shot.

Dads can be heroes whether in literary realms or in real life. I think we all pretty much realize it, but occasionally need a subtle reminder.

Happy Father’s Day 2012.

THE YOUNGER DAYS Book Release Giveaway

I wrote a book. Seriously, I did. It is a book for the upper middle grade (10-14 year old) boy crowd, but I think anyone can enjoy it. I know it may be a bit surprising to some of you, but it’s true. A bit of a shock similar to the time I gave a pre-game speech using Luke 11:23 as the theme, only to have just one player respond with, “Coach, you read the Bible?”

Yes, it is true. I read the Bible AND I write. I had an idea, I scribbled it down, it rattled around in my head for several  years then I wrote all 25,500 words down in just the right order. A series of rejections, followed by a series of fortunate events, finally landed a contract with MuseItUp Publishing, who released it as an ebook on March 9, 2012.

Now that the ebook is out, I have to also become a salesman. It is the way of modern publishing; part writer, part editor, part marketer, part sales. I am not a salesman. Sure, I want as many people to read the book as humanly possible, but I am not a salesman. Never have been. I hated going house to house hawking fund-raisers as a kid.  As a 13-year old, I refused to sell candy bars for the school’s summer baseball program. Wouldn’t do it. My coach that year was also in charge of the fundraising for the baseball program. He told me I HAD to sell candy bars or sit the bench. I refused. I sat the bench. I was a pretty good player, but I wouldn’t budge on my position. I sat the bench. I am not a good salesman.

I stunk at trying to sell our summer conditioning program to the kids. I couldn’t bring myself to Tony Little-ize a sales pitch to the kids. Fortunately Coach Lane stepped in and was able to convince kids to come, he sold it much better than I ever could have.  My part became to sell the results through action and work.  Show up, work hard and you will notice a difference in your body in two weeks.  Once they gave the program a chance, they liked the results and came back day after day.

So, here’s the sales pitch. Try the book, give it a chance and you (or young people you know) may like the results. And priced at $3.50, it is actually cheaper than one of those World’s Finest chocolate bars or boxes of pastel-colored, candy-coated almonds.

You can find the ebook at these places:

MuseItUp Publishing Bookstore

Amazon Bookstore

And here’s a giveaway of an ebook copy of THE YOUNGER DAYS. Leave a comment here or at my THE COACH HAYS page, to respond to the question below. A winner from the respondents will be randomly selected on April Fool’s Day, 2012.

Question: What was the worst, most hated, most despised thing you ever had to sell as a kid?

The Book Cover Has Arrived!

THE YOUNGER DAYS book cover by MuseItUp Publishing cover artist Kaytalin Platt

I am very happy with it. So cool. For the first time, it feel like all this is really, actually going to happen and wasn’t purely in Mike Hays imagination land.

Book Trailer for THE YOUNGER DAYS