Teen Wish: Understanding a Journal is Not Kindling

This is a reblog of my post over on the UncommonYA blog:

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by Eric DevineSomewhere in my attic is the first journal I ever used. The same one I almost burned.As a teen, this is what my writing “schedule” looked like: any night I wasn’t too exhausted to immediately fall asleep, I settled into bed with a journal and pen and poured out my heart. I wrote typical, angst-riddled entries, along with volumes of poetry. These notebooks became a place to vent, to unburden myself from the issues life was throwing at me, and had everything to do with becoming an author.As a senior in high school, depressed over a debilitating injury, I had time on my hands to sit, and to be alone, and to be angry. And instead of picking up a journal to write it all down, I picked up my previous ones and read. I found no solace in this, just a brimming self-loathing at what I thought was time well spent, being creative and artistic and finding myself.

And so I decided to burn the entirety of my journals. I stacked them in my back yard (as best I could while on crutches) and I brought along a bottle of lighter fluid and matches.

I pictured the flames, saw my words melting, and knew it was the right thing to do: burn all this bullshit. But then I remembered the poems in there, the ones to my girlfriend––the only person with whom I shared my work. She adored those words, and when she eventually found out I had burned my journals, I knew I would risk losing more than just notebooks.

I brought everything back inside and tucked it away. But not my emotions. I let them out on a new page, and I remembered why I started using a journal in the first place.

Therefore, what I wish I knew as a teen is that there is value in expression, in saying what you need to say, if only to yourself through your journal. A lot of time spent as an author is inside one’s own head, and that is true well before you know there’s a purpose to it. A journal then, is an excellent way to sift through and see whether the matters are sizable enough to pursue, or fragments better left to drift.

Somewhere in that attic is a journal I didn’t burn, and with it, a few dozen more. And in my closet there are even more. My desk is overflowing with them. One is at my side right now, which I still use to say whatever I want to say. Spending time with my thoughts and with my words in a space that is all for me is invaluable. It is the purest form of writing, and I am glad I didn’t burn the relics of my beginning.
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Buy Links: 
Dare Me, Tap Out, This Side of NormalAmazon US, Amazon Canada: Dare MeTap OutThis Side of Normal; Barnes & Noble:Dare MeTap Out;  IndieBound

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On Offering Advice to Teen Writers

 

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Recently I had a conversation with a teenager who is interested in writing as a career. This was doubly cool for me, because one, she was asking advice because of my merits as an author. Two, and possibly more importantly, our conversation raised an issue I haven’t given much thought since I was a teenager.

After I had offered suggestions about where to seek critique for her work, and possible courses she could take, and, of course, various authors to read, I asked, “So what’s your writing schedule like?”

She stated that it was mostly hit or miss and with how busy she’s been lately, there’s been little time.

And then I said the wrong thing: “Well, the best thing you could do is create a schedule for yourself. Write at the time of day that works best, for twenty minutes or an hour, or some amount of time that you can stick to.”

She sighed and shrugged and then said what every teen writer should say, “See, I don’t want to make it a chore, something else to do. I want to enjoy it.”

I immediately felt my stupidity. Here I was talking to a teenager the way I normally offer advice to adults who write. I immediately backtracked, not only because it was the right thing to do, but because she had hit on something I’ve long ignored: the love of the moment, the novelty of creation.

Here I was, a professional, thinking like someone who is paid to write. Someone who no longer subscribes to the “write when I’m motivated” philosophy, because with my life and responsibilities, those moments might never come. I was talking about writing as a job. I had forgotten about the thrill of all thrills, those my-hand-can’t-keep-up-with-my-brain writing sessions where you start to understand why people commit themselves to this craft. Because it is so liberating.

When I was a teen I never saw myself as an author. Hell, I have trouble seeing myself as one now. Back then I wrote when I was moved, when I knew I had something to say and no one to say it to, or at least who would listen. I was never concerned with shaping a story, just telling it. I never cared if anyone else saw my work or if it made me money. I loved putting pen to paper and just getting my feelings into words. I loved that I could do something that felt good. Period.

And now?

I still love writing, but not in the same way. I have a much more nuanced relationship with the muse and think that is necessary for my success. But the start of all this was from the place of the teen writer I spoke with. The one who really, I believe, wanted to know that she was headed down the right path.

And she is. Because she reads, she writes, she seeks criticism of her work. She wants to grow and push herself. But at her own speed. On her own terms. That is the exact way to proceed. She is wise to know what she needs and how to achieve such.

Therefore, I can’t express how awesome it was to have this conversation, to be reminded of that thrill, that moment. And now it is in my best interest to remember that beginner’s mind when offering advice. Even when it is to myself.

*Quick reminder* My cover reveal and giveaway runs until Wednesday. Don’t forget to enter for multiple signed books and author swag 🙂

PRESS PLAY Cover Reveal

I threw a party and want to give you my gifts.

 

So I finally got to see the awesome, amazing, and intense cover for my next novel, Press Play. And then the Book Buzz 2014 Young Adult edition released, which has the first two chapters in it. I was so excited that I threw a party to celebrate.

 

Bethany Crandell came with a signed copy of her novel, Summer on the Short Bus and a swag pack with bookmark and pin.

Shortbus book & swag

A.G. Howard brought an awesome 18×24” Unhinged poster, as well as a Splintered series swag pack.

Unhinged posterSplintered.UnhingedSwag

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lisa Ann O’Kane rolled up with an e-copy of her debut, Essence and some sweet swag pins.

Essence. Book imageESSENCE Pins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 A. Lynden Rolland rocked the place with a signed copy of her debut, Of Breakable Things and her swag pins and bookmark.

Obt.BookImageOBT buttonOBT bookmark

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And then Justin Holley scared us all with his contribution: a signed copy of the horror anthology, Amanda’s Recurring Nightmares, in which his short story, “Wildflower” is featured.

Amanda's Nightmares

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had a blast, and because I’m so thrilled with my cover and the sample chapters, I WANT TO GIVE ALL MY GIFTS AWAY.

 

So let’s reveal my cover and then you will have a chance to win all that you saw above, as well as a signed copy of Press Play. Awesome, right?

 

*Drum roll*

 

And for the teaser

Press Play cover teaser

 

Scroll for the real deal

 

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Press Play cover

Holy-in-your-face-what-is-going-on-with-these-kids-in-this-glitchy-video-image?

Let me explain:

About Press Play:

Does the truth really set you free?

Pound by sweaty pound, Greg Dunsmore’s plan is working. Greg is steadily losing weight while gaining the material he needs to make the documentary that will get him into film school and away from the constant jeers of “Dun the Ton.”

But when Greg captures footage of brutal and bloody hazing by his town’s championship-winning lacrosse team, he knows he has evidence that could damage as much as it could save. And if the harm is to himself and his future, is revealing the truth worth the cost?

With unflinching honesty, author Eric Devine explores the debatable truths and consequences of the choices we make to get through each day intact.

 

You’re pumped now. I can feel it. Well, if you need a fix, here are the first two chapters. But don’t forget to enter, below, to win the prize pack.

Thanks for stopping by, and happy winning, and even happier reading 🙂

 The Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

About the Author

Eric Devine is the author of multiple works of Young Adult fiction, most recently Dare Me. He is also a veteran high school English teacher, where he spends as much time teaching as he does completing field research for his novels. His work has been listed by YALSA and Booklist for reluctant readers and for Best in Sports. He and his wife have two wonderful daughters and two not-so-wonderful Labradors. Eric’s next novel, Press Play, will be released 10/28, and he is currently working on two novels. Find out more at his blog, his Facebook fan page, or Twitter: @eric_devine

 

About the Giveaway Authors

Bethany Crandell writes young adult novels because the feelings that come with life’s “first” times are too good not to relive again and again.  She lives in San Diego with her husband, two kiddos (one of whom is differently-abled), and a chocolate lab who has no regard for personal space. She believes that avocados are better than chocolate and that Jake Ryan is going to show up at her door any minute now…. twitter: @bethanycrandell website  facebook

A.G. Howard is the author of the Splintered series, a young adult gothic spinoff of Alice in Wonderland. Here are her online haunts: Goodreads  FaceBook  Pinterest  Twitter Tumblr  Website

Lisa Ann O’Kane is a young adult author and former vagabond who once camped out in Yosemite National Park for an entire summer, an experience that inspired her debut novel ESSENCE. Her background is in zookeeping and environmental education, and she has been kicked, cornered, bitten and chased by nearly every animal she has ever loved. She currently resides in Florida, and she is now a huge fan of shooting stars, indoor plumbing and keeping both her feet planted firmly on the trail.Find out more: Website  Twitter  Facebook  Instagram  Pinterest

A. Lynden Rolland was born and raised in Annapolis, Maryland. She spent much of her childhood compiling dramatic stories of tragic characters in a notebook she still keeps. As a former English teacher, she enjoys visiting classrooms to discuss reading, writing and publishing. When she isn’t writing or chasing her two young children around town, she moonlights as a writing tutor and gymnastics instructor. Of Breakable Things is her first novel.

You can connect with A. Lynden Rolland online through Facebook, Twitter, or Goodreads.

Justin Holley is the author of several scary books and short stories, many of which are published in magazines and anthologies around the world. Outside of writing, Justin likes to spend time with his family, investigate the paranormal, and play volleyball pretty much year round. You can interact with Justin at his website, at Minnesota Ghosts or on Twitter: @Justin_Holley

@Justin_Holley

 

@Justin_Holley

 

@Justin_Holley

 

@Justin_Holley

 

 

Liked TAP OUT? Check out CAGED WARRIOR.

CAGED WARRIOR

 

If you’ve read Tap Out, then you know I’m down for a gritty, YA novel about MMA and trying to find a way out. There are plenty out there that work this theme, but Caged Warrior brings an intriguing premise:

McCutcheon Daniels’ life is full of bone-cracking violence. As a star fighter in the gritty underground Mixed Martial Arts circuit in the poorest section of Detroit, McCutcheon fights under the tutelage of his volatile and violent father, not so much for himself but to survive as protector of his beloved five-year old sister, Gemma. We get to know McCutcheon as he battles opponents who are literally trying to kill him. Mr. Freedman, his science teacher, spots his intellectual potential, befriends him, and encourages him to enter the lottery for a scholarship to an elite charter school so he can obtain a first-class education. He is at first dead-set against the idea, and of course his tyrannical father forbids it. But the school’s headmaster, Kaitlyn, a student assigned to be his guide, and Mr. Freedman continue to encourage him to consider it. 

His father and the Priests, the local Mafia-like crew that run Detroit’s organized crime, have other plans for McCutcheon. For them, he is simply a tool to make them money. And when that cash flow is threatened, his father hits McCutcheon where it hurts most-he hides Gemma and threatens his own son that he’ll never see his beloved sister again if he doesn’t play by the Priests’ rules.

For the first time in his life, McCutcheon reaches out for help. Mr. Freedman turns out to have a very mysterious past and not only helps McCutcheon find his sister but also his mother who had simply disappeared on McCutcheon’s 13th birthday. All seems well, but happy endings aren’t really something McCutcheon feels he can rely on. And he may be right.

A ferocious novel, Caged Warrior is like a great fight movie, a tour-de-force of relentless conflict, but one that is leavened with rich characters and meaningful and loving relationships.

Intriguing, right? Well, today is the publication day, so if you like this, feel free to download Chapter 1, or go ahead and buy directly. I know I am. Enjoy.

Perspective from Double H Ranch

G&K Double H

 

My editor is fond of saying to me that a good story allows the reader to see both the forest and the trees. This past weekend, my family was fortunate enough to attend a family retreat for those with children with type 1 diabetes, at the Double H Ranch. Attaining the perspective my editor suggests became the paramount element of the experience.

Close to 30 families, with various amounts of children with or without diabetes were in attendance, along with volunteers and staff. Double H, which exists to provide fun for those with disabilities, was shockingly not all about sitting around and talking about the struggle with it. Rather, the focus was providing an opportunity for children and their families to just hang out and enjoy in a safe and supportive environment. And that environment, that forest, was everything.

I have been around other type 1 camps and am, therefore, used to the sounds of glucose meters and pumps sounding off, and people calling out numbers like some strange lottery. The rest of my family is not. For my wife it was at first disconcerting, because she thought it was either Kaygan or me, but she then quickly realized it was the entire room. That moment when you realize we are “all in this together” is not some cliché, is so affirming, yet at the same time, kind of heartbreaking.

Watching my daughter not shy away from testing her blood or dealing with her pump was the key for me. It was evident that she realized she didn’t have anything to hide, because no one in the room felt awkward by her presence and her disability. Because, sadly, in her regular life, people do. Every. Single. Day. Just as they do in mine. So, lifting that layer of discomfort, if only for a couple of days, was a major reward.

And so was having the opportunity to talk about diabetes, amidst conversations about regular life. The beauty of the weekend was that everything was loose. The children played and had their own silent awareness of the discarded stigma, while parents gathered to chat about the minutiae of the disease. We learned form one another via our shared experiences. And that is powerful. Often at support groups people are hesitant to open up, to admit just how much of a hard time they are having at handling things. That wall comes down when you are able to hang out with others and not have to deliver monologues that summarize your experience, but rather weave yours into conversations that ebb and flow around the myriad aspects of the disease.

Because type 1 is a multi-layered disability. A common question I receive is the following: What affects your disease? I’ve boiled my answer down to this: Living. On the surface it may seem crass, but if you take a moment and consider, it is the only reasonable answer. Every little thing we do, from the amount we sleep or eat or move, affects how we manage this disability. And that underscores it all. We live, in spite of this disability that many do not understand or confuse with type 2. We live, and we strive for the best “normal” life under tough circumstances. We live, and we feel shame and guilt, even though we know it’s not our fault, and that there’s no one to blame.

And after this weekend, I’m glad to know that my daughter has a sense of that “we.” Everyone with this, and with any other disease or disability, is at the same time both incredibly alone, and equally surrounded. Sometimes just knowing that others feel what you feel is enough. Often, seeing is believing.

So thank you Double H, and Pump Wear, and all the staff and volunteers, who allowed us to see the forest for the trees.

 

––Carrie, Eric, Grace and Kaygan Devine

 

 

*For any parents from the weekend who are reading this and want to find This Side of Normal, just click on the book title for options*

Press Play Cover Teaser

Press Play cover teaser

 

Above is a teaser image for my next novel, Press Play. I received the full cover yesterday, and can’t show the full one to you, yet, but soon–maybe another week. However, I can give you the jacket copy, which captures the story perfectly:

Does the truth really set you free?

Pound by sweaty pound, Greg Dunsmore’s plan is working. Greg is steadily losing weight while gaining the material he needs to make the documentary that will get him into film school and away from the constant jeers of “Dun the Tun.”

But when Greg captures footage of brutal and bloody hazing by his town’s championship-winning lacrosse team, he knows he has evidence that could damage as much as it could save. And if the harm is to himself and his future, is revealing the truth worth the cost?

With unflinching honesty, author Eric Devine explores the debatable truths and consequences of the choices we make to get through each day intact.

The publication date is 10/28, and so we’ve got a while before pre-orders are available. However, Advanced Reader Copies will be available at BEA at the end of the month, where I’ll be. And prior to that, a two-chapter teaser will be available. So stay tuned, as this launch gains traction.