Schedule of Events

Tap Out has been out for almost two weeks and I’ve been receiving fantastic feedback. Yet, I still have more to come. This week I have a guest post appearing at Teen Librarian’s Toolbox about the state of Young Adult Literature and boys as readers, and Ultimate MMA will be reviewing Tap Out in the near future. I also have reviews slated to appear on some very fantastic websites, including Forever Young Adult.

Therefore, I extend thanks to my fans for spreading the word and letting people know about my work. Below is my updated list of events. Notice that November now has two dates at Barnes and Noble. Please come out and get your copy signed or purchase Tap Out if you haven’t had the chance yet. I look forward to seeing you.

9/25:  Clifton Park Library from 7-9 pm. The Open Door Bookstore will be on hand for purchases.

9/29: The Book House in Stuyvesant Plaza from 3-4 pm. They, of course, will have copies for sale.

10/6: Release party and signing at Legion Training Center from 2-4 pm. Come out and let me sign your copy of Tap Out in the cage of the best MMA gym in the area. Not only will books be available, via Good Buy Books, but you’ll receive 20-30% of merchandise and memberships. If you have any interest in MMA for conditioning or for self-defense, this is THE place to be. For all ages and ability levels.

11/3: Barnes and Noble Colonie from 2-4 pm. Proceeds from the day’s total purchases will go toward Guilderland High School fundraising.

11/4: Barnes and Noble Niskyayuna from 2-4 pm.

The Agreement

This picture was taken on Tap Out‘s Book Birthday, 9/11. It is far and away, the most viewed picture of me, ever. Facebook tells me so. There’s more to this picture, though, than just me mugging with my novel, grinning ear-to-ear. You see, most days I’m not smiling like this. I’m downright serious. It has nothing to do with being surly (although some might argue otherwise, and win). It has to do with the agreement I entered when I decided to be a writer. It’s a similar pact for anyone who’s pursuing something with no guarantees, say opening a business or working toward a degree or trying to successfully raise a child. We all agree to the following:

  • We will work hard, if not tirelessly toward our goal.
  • We will not complain, because we chose this; we could have picked otherwise.
  • We accept that we may fail, and, indeed will fail, many times along the way.
  • We understand that no one owes us anything.

Therefore, the time spent in pursuit may not be filled with a pictorial catalog of grins and laughter. More likely there will be an earnestness, a borderline hostility. This is not an excuse. I do not feel it’s all right to be a jerk just because you’re out to prove something. Nor is this a stereotype. I can guarantee that there are writers and doctoral candidates and mothers to quintuplets who smile all the live-long day. I just have never met one. I think they may be as rare as unicorns.

However, when the goal is achieved, be prepared for a bit of mania. I haven’t yet touched down from the high I’ve felt since Tap Out was released. There have been wonderful reviews and an outpouring of support from my colleagues and family and friends. Bookstores are selling out of Tap Out and having to restock because of the high demand. Seriously? I did this? I wrote a book that well?

It’s hard to imagine when you’re in it that you’ll ever reach this point. But for all of you at whatever stage, think of that grin. Imagine that’s you next to your novel or at your office door or watching your child off to school. The agreement is the way it is because it forces the best out of us.

That picture up there proves it.

It’s time

Today’s the day, and all I can say is thank you. To my family, my friends, Kate McKean and the Howard Morhaim Literary Agency, Lisa Cheng, all the staff at Running Press.

Yesterday one of my students said, “Mr. Devine, you get so excited when you tell stories. It’s awesome.” She’s right, I do, and it is. I tell stories, with friends, in the classroom, and in print. That’s my nature. So thank you, as well, to the storytellers who influenced me when I was young and somehow sparked my desire to join the ranks. And thank you to the storytellers who continue to inspire me to tell the best stories I can.

It’s a gift to do what I do and I try my best to appreciate it for what it is. It’s not luck and it doesn’t come without hard work. But I am lucky and the work is more like play.

So please, enjoy Tap Out, and while you do, know I’m hard at work doing what I love, writing another story that is awesome.

One more reason

If you still need a reason to read Tap Out, or if you just missed these along the way, I’ve compiled reviews and interviews for your convenience. If you are still on the fence, I hope you find something here that provides the deciding factor.

If not, maybe meeting me in person and talking about the book will seal the deal. If so, I’ve listed my events below, along with an image of the flyer I hope you will soon see around the Capital District.

If none of this wins you over, then I hope during the month of September and beyond, when people are reading and talking, someone gives you a copy and says, “You have to. It’s awesome.” Because it is for you, readers, that I have written Tap Out. It’s a dark and disturbing story, but ultimately it is about our humanity. And that narrative must be read and shared and discussed.


From Kirkus Reviews

TAP OUT (reviewed on August 1, 2012)

A boy who knows only grinding despair finds hope within the walls of a gym…

From School Library Journal

Starting with the first page, Devine instantly captures your attention and holds it until the very end.—Sarah A., age 15

From the Times Union

In the end, can we believe that Tony will succeed? I think the answer depends on how much we feel someone in his circumstances can rise above. Does he have that strength, or is he, sadly, too far gone? I want readers to question the exact question you posed. Is Tony cold, or is he just trying to protect himself when no one else in his life is able to?

From Scripts and Scribes

9/8: WNYT (Channel 13) interview with Beth Wurtmann @ 8:30 am. Tune in.

9/8: Kaged Kombat at the Saratoga City Center. Doors open @ 5:00 pm, fights begin @ 6:00. I will be with Legion Training Center distributing promotional material for Tap Out

9/11: Tap Out releases. Pre-orders will be shipped. E-books should be available. Local stores will have copies. Please use the Tap Out: Find a Seller or Store via Running Presslink if you are looking.

9/25: Now that you all have read come see me at the Clifton Park Library from 7-9 pm and I’ll sign your copy. We’ll also have The Open Door Bookstore on hand for purchases.

9/29: If Albany is more convenient, I’ll be at the Book House in StuyvesantPlaza from 3-4 pm

10/6: Release party and signing at Legion Training Center. Come out and let me sign your copy of Tap Out in the cage of the best MMA gym in the area. Not only will books be available, but you’ll receive 20-30% of merchandise and memberships. If you have any interest in MMA for conditioning or for self-defense, this is THE place to be. For all ages and ability levels.

Tap Out-Flyer

It is not the critic who counts

I am biased. As a high school English teacher for the past ten years I’ve witnessed brilliance from my colleagues. Not only in teaching the curriculum and caring for teens, but in finding books, and reading them with a critical eye for the insight they provide us, and invariably for what our students may also learn from them.

Therefore, when I received a review of Tap Out from a local English teacher, not on a blog or in any print media, but in the form of a hand-written letter, I was scared to open it. I had no idea what her opinion of my work was going to be, but I knew she would speak her mind, because that’s what the best teachers do.

She didn’t hold back. And what she highlighted are aspects of the novel I care about so deeply, that I was filled with pride for what Tap Out achieves:

“I loved Tap Out. The teacher in me faced, once again, that some of my most difficult students are the ones with the most difficult lives.”

This is a powerful point I’ve faced time and again. Often the “difficult” students are met with confrontation from educators and administration. This is true for Tony, yet there is also compassion and empathy from Big O. I am so glad I addressed that knotty issue authentically and that it resonated with another teacher.

“When Tony wants to isolate himself for a few minutes he was able to get on the bus ‘…and grab a seat in the middle and bury my head into the notch between the window and the seat.’ I can’t imagine there is a reader who doesn’t know that place.”

Another excellent point of perspective. It is wise for us as educators to remember what it’s like to be a teen. It’s tumultuous, and for some there’s no outlet from the turbulence. Recognizing when a student is in that place can change everything.

“Is the truck an intentional symbol for the boys? ‘A piece of shit through and through. That much was obvious in the light, as are the rust spots and chipped panel. The engine and transmission are solid, though.’ “

The question of an author’s intent with symbolism is pervasive in the classroom. I know I’ve addressed it countless times, and I’ve always said that nothing is by chance. Now I can say, as a writer, yes, the truck is symbolic, but I didn’t set out to make it so. I simply wrote about the world in which these boys live. It only made sense that they’d end up with a vehicle much like them.

The letter goes on to praise Tap Out, with the author suggesting that her assessment is beneath the level of the literary critic. I disagree. I believe it is more important. It is teachers and librarians and administrators that live on the front line. It is my purpose as a writer to account for those stories from the trenches. If a critic, who is not attached to this world isn’t thrilled with Tap Out, okay, I’m not thrilled, but I’ll live, so long as I have teachers who can see within the characters their own students, and who can then say to them, “Read this.”

Because that’s the result I seek. Writing is a business, but foremost it is an artistic expression, aiming to hit a mark so elusive and fluid, it is almost impossible. No one can hit that mark for everyone, because it doesn’t exist. There are more stories and perspectives than there are writers. But we can try. And based on this letter, I’ve hit this one dead on. Good for me, but better, good for my readers.

Thank you, Ann L.