Dare Me ARC has arrived

Dare me arrival

I don’t need to say much else beyond Hell to the Yeah! Just as Advanced Reader Copies of Dare Me are being given away at BEA, mine just came in the mail.

The cover is gorgeous, and new to Running Press titles this year is a note to the reader from my editor. To quote her, summing up my writing, “Truth and Consequences.” I could not agree more. 

Now to get first reactions from those around me, including my wife. 

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Why Dare Me?

DareMeCvr

All teenagers want to be seen. Today they can achieve visibility in an instant, but they face the same challenge as we all have, rising above everyone else and into the limelight.

This is Dare Me.

This is why I wrote Dare Me:

  1. I wanted to explore YouTube culture and the way it is shaping our teens, who constantly want to be seen, and see themselves. Or some idea of that.
  2. Being a daredevil–or lacking “good judgment”–has plagued me since I was a teen, and it continues to plague teens today. Combine this with YouTube and something powerful emerges.
  3. Need proof of #2? Tosh. O.
  4. On that note, I’ve always wondered why we as a culture derive pleasure from others’ pain. We watch, cringe, and then watch again. I hear, “Watch this, Mr. D,” from my students daily.
  5. Tap Out was dark, as in I-can’t-see-my-hand-in-front-of-my-face-is-that-a-gun? dark. I wanted less dark, but equal intensity. Having characters risk their lives on a monthly basis fulfilled that goal.
  6. Money. Today, it’s everything, on par with the visibility quotient of #1. Adults have limited ability in this economy to turn things around quickly. So, what if? What if a teen knew of a way to make money, lots of it, risking something he doesn’t truly think he can lose, but is worth everything? Mhmm, that’s a great layer.
  7. Romance. For real. I wanted to see of I could write sparks. They are as genuine as can be for this would-be couple, in this volatile situation (Don’t think of that terrible line from Speed–it’s much more innocent and honest than that).
  8. Exploration of friendships. Risking your life is easy. Having emotions is difficult. You cannot do the former without having the latter. So, what are those emotions when they’re tied to your friends? And what if you haven’t been that close since middle school? What if this type of behavior was your undoing in the past? What now?
  9. Identity. Every story is about identity. Loss of it, a search for it, a confusion about it, a disillusionment over it, a false belief in it… Every story I write looks at this dynamic, and Dare Me asks how one can stay true to oneself when everything is up in the air.
  10. The one barometer I have for my stories is this question: Is it awesome? The answer has to be yes. And not just for the plot or for the characters or for the deeper, thematic issues. ALL. OF. IT.

I hope that provides some insight. Because BEA kicks off on Wednesday and runs through Saturday. At some point, Running Press will be giving away Advanced Reader Copies of Dare Me.

I hope that every copy disappears and that all turn to this site and find this post. Then when they head to Goodreads they can score me on my success or failure regarding my goals. Especially #10.

Enjoy.

Fear of Failure (with an excerpt from Dare Me)

It’s commencement time. Students are graduating and moving on to higher education or into the workforce, and intelligent people have words of wisdom for them. The most prevalent I’ve heard is, “embrace failure.”

Michelle Obama most recently suggested this to high school students in Tennessee. And just last week I posted Neil Gaiman’s commencement speech to last year’s graduating class at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts, which has recently been turned into a book, Make Good Art. One I’m sure will find its way into many graduates’ hands.

I find the discussion interesting, this talk of failure and its ability to spur one on to better himself or herself. I agree with it, wholeheartedly. I have failed so many times, have made so many mistakes in so many ways that I now expect to struggle. I even advise my daughters with this wisdom: mistakes are normal.

Yet–and it’s a big yet–I am so very anxious of failing with Dare Me.

It’s not that Dare Me is going to rival Tap Out for morally offensive elements and I fear being labeled “amoral” or “immoral”. Rather, it’s that I know more about the industry this time around, just enough that I’m second-guessing every move.

Last week I blogged about my most recent conundrum: should I or shouldn’t I pay for a professional book trailer?

Really? This was even a question? Dare Me is focused on YouTube, daredevil culture. What other medium could possibly do better for promotion?

Word-of-mouth.

It’s the truth. Word-of-mouth, be it literally one person to the next, or virtually, on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, blogs, etc., is the number one way books get sold. And yes, it makes sense that marketing increases word-of-mouth, but no amount of marketing overshadows lack of engagement, lack of talk about a book.

So what do I do?

Behave like Joel Goodsen (Tom Cruise) in Risky Business when he meets with the college recruiter? You know the famous line. Or do I continue to worry relentlessly like Cameron Frye in Ferris Bueller’s? (Can’t resist the 80s movie references–sorry.)

I don’t know.

Part of me wants to turn off my brain and just take the plunge. Like I did when I started writing. No thought, just action. Part of me wants to analyze and be exacting. Chances are I’ll do a little of both.

I am afraid of failure, but I am equally afraid of not trying. I fall neatly into Seth Godin’s idea of anxiety: “I define anxiety as experiencing failure in advance.”

That is not the goal. Good writing, word-of-mouth spread, and true enjoyment of the process, is.

So in that spirit, as I’m figuring out what to do, let me give you a slice of Dare Me, not surprisingly, from a scene in which Ben, the protagonist, is afraid to jump, and equally afraid not to.

(Excerpt)

     I don’t have time to respond, because he’s at my elbow again and I’m standing and all is as it was before, except I’m more used to the blindfold. In fact, I’m glad I have it on, because I’m numb.

    “In five, four, three . . .”

    Ricky’s voice fades and I hop. For a moment, I feel nothing and wonder if I haven’t jumped far enough. But then I’m falling, the wind rushing by and my insides shaking. I remember to tighten up just before I hit.

Book Trailers: Thumbs up or down?

I need help making a decision. I want to make a movie trailer for Dare Me, but I don’t know if it’s a good idea.

Now, when I say I want to “make” one, that means I intend to hire a filmmaker (we’re already at the planning stage). However, I’ve read so much on the topic–probably too much–that I’m now second guessing whether going forward is a good move.

Sure, having a film for Dare Me would be awesome. That’s not in question. But paying for one with the desire for it to pay for itself, is another venture altogether.

Therefore, considering the nature of Dare Me‘s content: YouTube videos, teen culture, and daredevil behavior, do you say yea or nay?

And if yea, feel free to suggest what you’d like to see.

If nay, is it because book trailers seem oxymoronic, or something else?

And if you’ve never seen a book trailer, feel free to enjoy the compilation below. They’re some of the best. Thanks.

Amidst the Chaos

These past two weeks have been insane for me, professionally, and personally. We had the JDRF Walk for my daughter, a spring concert, my eldest’s first communion, and, of course Mothers’ Day.

I held the cover reveal for Dare Me and dialed in on the last chapters of my Work In Progress. I’m two chapters out from what would be my 2015 title. Fingers crossed.

But amidst all this, last week, I got quite a surprise. For those of you who are members of my Facebook author page, you know the story. I apologize for the redundancy, but every good story bears repeating.

First, I posted this:

Received a tweet from a teacher this morning directing me to her review of Tap Out. Two things to love in her piece: 

1. That the kids WANTED to read the story.
2. That she read it AFTER they did. That takes courage with the content, but I applaud her for that.

Tap Out should not be the new literary standard, by any means, but as a gateway for readership… I’ll take it. Here’s the review.

Then, later on, I followed up with this post:

So the teacher who contacted me had another request after I responded to her tweet. Her class wanted to know the story of how Tap Out came to be. I had five minutes while I had lunch, so I typed the message below. 

She got back to me later in the day, thanking me for the message, as her students truly enjoyed the feedback and a moment with an author.
I am quite honestly the one who reveled the moment. To know your work has value, real, impacting value. Yeah, that’s what motivates me at 4 AM when I’d rather be sleeping.
Hope you all feel the same with the work you do:

(My message to the students):
Hey, Eric Devine here. So, my inspiration… I’m sure I have an articulate blog post on my site, but I can’t find it, so here’s the quick and dirty:

I teach in a school that had a number of students participating in MMA. I noticed them and realized that many had a similar background (impoverished, violent homes). I then considered what it would like to be one of them, but on an extreme level, where they had literally nothing, not even MMA as an outlet. What kind of life would that be?

Tony was born from that idea. I wanted a kid tough enough to withstand, but who has been beaten down long enough that he questions himself, what he can take and whether he should keep fighting.

I’ve witnessed a lot of kids like Tony (male and female) who are good people, but for whom life has not been kind. Some turn out well; most do not. Therefore, I wanted a good kid who’s been given a raw deal to suffer as much as anyone could, in order to see which way he would go.

I can honestly say I did not realize how it would all shake out, but I am happy with the fact that Tony made some choices that do not sit well with people. That lets me know I made it authentic. Real life rarely sits well at all times with all people.

Tap Out is not a story of my life turned fiction. I have witnessed poverty and extreme violence and insanity, but secondhand. I am not Tony, but I love him for all his flaws, and for his humanity. Because in the end, I believe there is hope for him.

Later, I messaged the teacher and she told me that the students were so awestruck that they demanded she give them all printouts of my response. Unreal.

But it’s also so validating, because I meant every word of that response, and to receive such feedback made my day on so many levels. It’s a tough job, writing. You have to fully commit, and must expect nothing. I’m there. I live that life, in the very odd, isolated way it can often feel. But then there are these moments, when all of it is worth it.

Not because of the money. Not because of the accolades or critical praise. But because some kid, somewhere is reading. And he or she is reading my book. And he or she loves it.

I did that. And I get the opportunity to continue to do that. Yes, that is awesome. And I’ll rough the chaos for that moment of order, whenever it materializes.