Tap Out and the 2013 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Readers

Hey, here’s just a quick post in case you missed this on twitter or facebook. Tap Out made the cut for YALSA’s 2013 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Readers. In essence, this means that librarians feel if you are looking for a title for a teen, who doesn’t like to read, the books on this list might be a great place to start. The titles are as diverse as the readers who will find them and love them. I am thrilled to have Tap Out on the list, because I believe it is a perfect fit, and the chance of librarians and teens finding this title is that much greater. I’m still holding out hope for an at-risk teen connection, and possibly that may arise from this as well.

I would also like to thank Running Press for putting the support needed behind my work so that librarians knew of its existence and had the opportunity to examine its value. And of course thank you to the librarians who nominated and then voted for Tap Out. Your work is important and I am glad to be a part of it.

Thank you.

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ALA Midwinter Anxiety

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I’m anxious. It’s not cabin fever, in spite of how cold it has been, but rather I’m uneasy because of ALA Midwinter.

I so enjoyed my time at ALA Anaheim over the summer, I am envious of what I know is an absolute blast for the authors, librarians and publishing industry employees. Especially for the authors. I am jealous of the atmosphere, the camaraderie, the readers, fans and immersion in everything BOOKS, that when I check the #alamw13 feed, I so want to be there.

But I’m happy for those who are there, especially the authors from Running Press. I know for some they are having that first experience that I had, and it is well deserved. So I can find the silver lining, and that is good. But then there’s how I feel about the YALSA Quick Pick List for Reluctant Young Adult Readers.

Tap Out is on it, along with, I believe, 100+ others. After the voting today, how much would I like to see my work on the top ten? I’m not sure how to quantify such desire. Not the same as how bad I wanted to get published, but on par with how much I desired positive reviews. And sales. But that’s the thing, being on the top ten would affect both reviews and sales. So there’s that, and the unbelievable recognition.

And the quick pick list isn’t even close to the big show of the Caldecott, Coretta Scott King Book Awards, Newbery, Printz, William C. Morris and more. I cannot imagine how those nominees feel. I hope they are anxious, because I would be a knotted mess.

But, in all sincerity, it is awesome that Tap Out is even on anyone’s radar. There are so many unbelievable YA books that I am lucky to have been noticed and considered. I am thankful and grateful, but also expectant. I believe this is just my nature. I strive, succeed and then strive some more.

I don’t believe it’s an inherently poor way to live, but it is one that keeps me on edge, keeps me anxious and keeps me wanting more–from myself.

So fingers crossed, here’s hoping. And if not, it’s all good. There’s always next year.

The Only Constant

under construction2013 has gotten off to a rocky start. There was the flu I am still recovering from, and most recently, a boiler and fireplace that are acting up, kitchen cabinets that are snapping their hinges and putting holes in the wall, and a stained hutch that looked better in the mind’s eye than in the light. Quite simply, my house is a mess and I don’t have the wherewithal to fix it, because I’m still recovering, and yeah, still writing. A lot.

I am currently waiting on edits from both my agent and my editor for two separate projects, and I’ve just begun a third. One that requires extensive research. For the most part research isn’t something I’ve had to go out of my way to complete. I work with teenagers. I’m equal parts field researcher and educator. Tap Out did require a fair amount of gym time, interviews, and hours on YouTube, but where I’m going requires a fair amount of people opening their hearts and their lives to me. I will be much more intrusive and not nearly as passively observant.

And I feel ridiculous taking this on, considering how in shambles things are for me. But if I wait for the right time to move ahead, to stretch my capabilities, that time will never materialize. The one constant I’ve found in writing is that I have to say yes. In spite of everything else, say yes, and then write it. Because if it’s what my heart desires, then I have to feed that emotion. It doesn’t always work well, but it fulfills a need and a purpose that serve a greater end, one that even I only vaguely understand.

Trust me, I spend a significant amount of time behaving just the opposite. I live a regimented, disciplined life, plotting out piece by piece, not to dissimilarly than a novel. But this world is not under my control, and rare is it that I have a chance to follow a whim. That is why, amidst the ridiculousness that is my life, I reach out to people, I write and I write and I write. It is cathartic and it is a bit of therapy. It allows me to explore and learn and grow. It is easy to stagnate, and writing keeps me fresh and vibrant.

Regardless of the superstition I feel over the fallout of 2013, I’ll get over it. In no time I’ll be in my groove, the house will be in order and I’ll laugh about the rocky road the beginning of this year has been. But I’ll get to do that because I’ve looked past the immediate to what lies beyond, and I feel it’s phenomenal. It will take a hell of a lot of work to get there. But I cannot think of anything worthwhile that didn’t require such.

Goodreads and the week that didn’t exist

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Last week didn’t exist for me. I went to work Monday. That was it. From there it was a series of appointments with my doctors and a lot of sleep. When I was awake, I wasn’t very with it, and was completely useless as a father and husband.

A week later, I’m doing better. Not great. My first day back to work was exhausting, and I’m still ready for bed around 7 pm. But I can function, speak coherently and have returned to writing.

However, during this malaise I did have one accomplishment: I overcame my fear of Goodreads

When I first heard of Goodreads, I immediately signed up for an account and started adding the books I could remember reading–it happens that way, I just read so much. Then I realized that there was an entirely different purpose to Goodreads, the reviews.

I took a glance at the ones for Tap Out. Painful. There were some strong opinions about my work and about me, and I did what any rational person would do, I freaked out. And then I never went back to Goodreads. What was the point?

Well, there is one, but I’d missed it in my fear. The author end of Goodreads. Yes, this site that collects reviews and makes it easy for people to connect over books and find titles similar in taste also provides marketing services to authors. All you have to do is ask.

So I did. Something I should have done back in August for the pre-release of Tap Out. We live, we learn. So now I am running a giveaway on Goodreads for a signed copy of Tap Out. At this point there are close to 300 people entered to win. That’s pretty fantastic, I think.

I have not reached Goodreads expert status, yet. But I am aware that there are many options for connectivity on the site, and I will certainly look into each. But for now, I’m just happy to have overcome my trepidation. It’s just too bad it took the flu to get me there.

Inside my head…literally

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This is a CT scan of my sinuses, which I had taken on Monday because my allergist was certain I had a lingering sinus infection. Apparently, this shot indicates that I don’t. I woke up Tuesday morning shivering uncontrollably and took my temperature. It was 101, not outstanding, but as I typically run at 97, a bit high for me. Therefore, I was home from work yesterday and am home today. I’ve been sleeping 12-15 hours, eating what I can and taking pain killers. I also watched The Dark Knight Rises and read a fair amount of The Miseducation of Cameron Post. I’ve also had a fair amount of time to think.

First, I probably have the flu, a weaker form of it because I got my flu shot, but a nasty virus nonetheless. This irritates me because I did what I was supposed to and it didn’t pan out. But that’s life for you.

Second, I have awesome health care. I had two expensive exams when my allergist could have easily figured on infection, written a script for antibiotics and washed her hands of me. I love my doc for caring so much that she looked deeper.

Third, I also love my colleagues for pitching in and helping out. Emailing lesson plans in the fog of sickness is not easy, but they made it work and my students are being taken care of.

Fourth, I feel sorry for my daughters, who saw me so vulnerable. It was not easy for them, as I received a clandestine note from my eldest stating, “Feel better Daddy. I feel sorry for you and love you.” That hurts, but at least this virus will pass.

Last, I love my wife for taking care of EVERYTHING around the house, from meals to homework to school uniforms, and on and on. We share responsibility and my sense of guilt over not being able to do my share is enormous.

I’ll get back to writing as soon as my brain allows. This post was rather taxing, so I know I need more time for the big projects. Until then, I’ll keep my eyes open to the world around me, and the different ways it unfolds when one is incapacitated. Perspective is everything.

Or so I think.

On Letting Go

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I’ve had a nagging problem with editing my next novel, tentatively titled, Dare Me. To properly edit, you have to be able to see your work’s failures. Objectivity is key. But I haven’t been able to achieve that objective distance because I’ve had something else on my mind: Tap Out.

My rough and tumble novel has been out for almost four months. It’s not as if the fanfare has died away, but the energy behind foisting it upon the world has been spent, and now the story is moving on its own volition, with readers finding it and posting about it and passing it along. And like a child, I must let it grow, let it walk alone, while I sing its praises and offer support.

At the same time, I must give my attention to my baby, Dare Me. For the past month, I did this, hiding out in my office while the swirl of Christmas built outside my door. I dove in with my editor’s notes in hand and cleaned up my mess and got my characters straightened out and ready for the world. And like any parent, when I was done, I needed a drink.

Still, however, that nagging was there. I knew I’d edited well, but something continued to crawl under my skin.

Because of the holidays there was little time to give this consideration during the week from Christmas to New Year’s. And then there was snow, two storms here in the Northeast. And I had to shovel.

Stephen King discusses in On Writing how writers should always be writing, but how after finishing a project they should also take a little break to recharge. I tend to heed King’s advice because he’s Stephen King, and I think he knows what he’s talking about. Therefore, I was out in the snow, not writing, not editing, just scraping away my driveway, and I came to clarity.

I love Tony and Rob and my cast of characters from Tap Out, but I have to let them go. I have to make room in my heart for Ben and his friends and the insane antics they get involved with in Dare Me.

This, apparently is the life of a writer: Love, let go, and love again.

And I do. I love Tap Out. I love Dare Me. I love the novel that will follow both, and the one after that… and on and on.

With this notion I reread Dare Me. I forgot that I’d ever written anything else and focused only on Ben and his friends and the stunts and the pressure and the conflicts. I didn’t need to edit. I just needed to read and enjoy. And I sure as hell did.

So I continue down this road with you, my wonderful readers, and your tireless support. You don’t need to let go of any of my work, but please make room. Tap Out isn’t going anywhere, but understand that the wild ride has just begun.