Ambad-assadors of YA


I’ve been to NCTE before, so I knew what to expect: fevered English teachers looking to keep the fire for education burning. Indeed, this past weekend, I watched as they moved from session to session, sharing notes, tweeting awesomeness, and when they had time, eating food and stopping by the booths for educational materials and author signings.

It was, again, a beautiful event to be a part of. Even as I walked along the Potomac outside the convention center, teachers sat and discussed, saying things like, “I needed this so much.” “I am just recharged from all this energy.”

NCTE does a phenomenal job of having a precise focus, but then creating sessions that unpack that focus from a thousand angles. “Story as the Landscape of Knowing” was, again, perfect. All life is story. And so why shouldn’t we teach through story methods, regardless of what we are approaching? And NCTE answered just how to do that on so many levels, that I guarantee students across the country are going to be sitting up in classrooms on Monday, post-Thanksgiving sleepiness ripped away by teachers prepared to get down to the business of storytelling.

Good luck boys and girls 🙂


And then there was ALAN, which I had never been to, but now understand that I am ALAN (sorry, inside joke). This was another phenomenal collection of educators and authors, brought together to celebrate and explore all aspects of Young Adult literature.

Fortunately, I was invited to be on a panel with James McMullen, Jason Reynolds, and Andrew Smith, discussing male adolescence. As nerve-wracking as it was to be onstage with such titans, I found the crowd of educators supportive and eager to hear from us. That reinforced all that NCTE had just proclaimed, and drove home the point for me, of how we are all ambassadors for YA. Or, more aptly, Ambad-assadors. Because the educators and authors all had swagger. Because we all have a purpose: to demonstrate the power and importance of Young Adult literature.

I am still feeling the euphoric aftermath of such exposure to intense belief. And it’s wonderful. As an author and as an educator, I have always believed that story is everything. Stories we read, stories we tell others, and especially the stories we tell ourselves shape everything: who we are, who we want to be, and who we will become. The beauty is the evolution of such stories, and the ability to explore the narratives that are accepted, and then blow them away with something new. That is bad-ass.

With Thanksgiving around the corner, I know when asked by my family, “What are you thankful for?” I will easily be able to say, “For story.”

Thank you to all the amazing ambassadors of YA I met this weekend. You are doing amazing work. Never lose sight of the fact that you are forging readers and learners, who, with their stories, will do unbelievable things. What a beautiful piece of this narrative we live.

Thanks, for PRESS PLAY, and beyond



Life has been super busy since the release of Press Play, which I like to say is a good problem to have. However, part of my schedule includes a trip at the end of this week that runs through early next week. Therefore, I wanted to take a moment to express my thanks for so many things before it’s next week and I’m too exhausted to write a blog post 🙂

Running Press, my publisher, has been pretty phenomenal to me, constantly trying to find ways for people to learn about my work. They were very supportive about the making of my trailer, its blast and the subsequent run in the theater. Trust me, as an author, I do so much that impossible to measure, and so to have the business end of books support such is invaluable.

McGreivey’s restaurant, and Art Riley, in particular, has been nothing but awesome to me. For three years Art has agreed to host my launch parties, and every year I am so impressed by his willingness to help out a local author by making my family and friends feel so thoroughly welcome.

Both Barnes and Noble and Market Block Books have been great to me, hosting signings and getting the word out, and Market Block helped with sales for my launch and is on board for an event coming in December. Even though they are on opposite ends of the corporate indie spectrum of business, everyone I have met at each store has his or her heart in the right place, devoted to finding the right book for the right hands. I’m just glad they include me on that list.

WNYT is fantastic for having me on for a third time. Publicity of any kind is welcomed, and the opportunity to wake of the Capital District with Dan Bazile and my books is just damn fun.

So far, Teen Reader Con has been the highlight of my November. The other authors were awesome but the kids were unreal. I have never felt more like a rock star than I did that day. And the librarians who put so much time and energy into the event deserve a round of drinks and hearty applause. Pulling off such a wonderful event that was free and drew such a large crowd form all over the area, is astounding, as well as a testament to their dedication, professionalism, and compassion for the work they do.

And I am already thankful for this week. I will be at NCTE’s Annual convention, followed by ALAN’s Workshop. This opportunity is amazing. I get to meet thousands of English teachers and discuss my work with them, while at a convention that allows me to absorb amazing possibilities for my classroom. And at ALAN, I get to continue the conversation, as well as sit on a panel with one of my favorite authors, Andrew Smith.

And through it all has been Kate McKean, my superstar agent. Because even though I’m promoting Press Play, she’s helping me navigate the next stories, as always, with her pitch perfect sense of fiction and her absolute belief in me as an author.

Of course, it all boils down to my family, especially my wife, who is the only one to whom I can vent my frustrations and share my excitement. So much of what I do is unseen and unspoken, yet Carrie is privy to it all—for good and bad. I respect the degree to which she shoulders the burden of letting me live my dream, because without her, I would not.

My readers get last credit, but my everlasting appreciation. My work is not for everyone, but for those who enjoy it, they help spread the word, proclaiming the awesomeness of my intense and dark stories. Thank you. Authors need readers, and it is you who I always have in mind when I sit in this office and open the Word doc. It is you who I attempt to thank over and over, as I weave a bit of magic, story after story.

Thank you, and please enjoy Thanksgiving and the company of all of those for whom you are thankful.


Teen Reader Con

The article below is from Jay Asher’s blog regarding this weekend’s Teen Reader Con. I fully intended to write my own post for today, but then saw how many awesome pictures his had, that mine never would, because I can’t ever remember to take pics at events like this, and so I said to myself: Don’t be boring and redundant. So, yeah, I’m poaching his words.

I can, at least, add this text exchange with my mother (please excuse her texting errors; she was on vacation and quickly checking on me). See, kids, being a “child” never ends.



So, as you’ll read, the event was awesome, and as Jay says, “the peak of fun as an author.” Because it was. Being in an auditorium with 300 kids all pumped about books and writing, willing to spend their Saturday with us is as good as it gets.

Also, Joe Bruchac, literally ate his own words onstage. It was kind of epic.

If you missed this event, no worries, plans are already in shape for next year. And if they invite me, I promise to take more pics 🙂


Jay Asher: TeenReaderCon.


I flew out of my little hometown airport…
…took a short layover in Chicago…

…on my way to the first annual TeenReaderCon in Clifton Park, NY.

I’ve attended a few YA conferences, where a community brings in several authors to discuss their books and writing, and these events are always the peak of fun as an author. Not only does it give me a chance to hang out with and meet my peers, but the audience is made up of rabid readers!

On the way to the auditorium, the halls were lined with floor-to-ceiling paintings reproducing classics by Van Gogh, Picasso, Monet, and many others. Plus, there was a beautiful piece made out of paper where the white letters turned into colorful butterflies that flew off onto the wall.

The first presentation was by Coach Rich Johns, giving his “Act with Respect Always” talk, which I’ve heard about for years and is beautifully inspiring. As part of his presentation, he discusses Thirteen Reasons Why and recites my character’s poem, Soul Alone.

Here I am with the awesome dude!

Then all of the authors took the stage for our introductions and to answer some Q & A.

I had never been on a panel with any of these authors before, but would do it again in a second. Such a fun, smart group of people! (I’m so thankful they let me join them.)

Here’s the happy bunch with photographer Marisa Geraghty. She’d been taking pics throughout the conference, so they finally made her get into one of them!

Of course, when I called home to describe the event, my son was most impressed by the excavator I passed while talking to him.

Teen Reader Con

Teen Reader Con

First, thank you to everyone who has made the launch of Press Play a phenomenal success. I’m having a blast, and the fun has only just begun, which brings me to this upcoming weekend and Teen Reader Con.

The one event I failed to mention in my interview on WNYT this weekend was this. I’m chalking it up to nerves and the mental countdown clock I had running in my head. Anyway, as you can see from above, the event is packed with amazing authors, and the day will unfold like this:

8:30-9:00    Arrival – Trivia games and book sale!

9:00-9:30   Rich Johns – Act with Respect Always

9:45-10:15   Kick-off!! – Welcome the Authors

10:30-11:15  Session #1

11:30-12:15  Session #2; Lunch

12:30-1:15    Session #3; Lunch

1:30-2:15      Session #4

2:30-3:15     Main Session with Authors

3:15-4:00     Autographing

I think the best part of all this, that I simply cannot underscore enough, is that it’s free. Yup, it costs nothing. To have access like this for an entire day at no cost is simply amazing. There are few teen events like this nationally, so I urge you to take part.

Each Session is a presentation from each author. So, if for nothing else, come and spend 45 minutes in a small group setting learning about all of the authors. I guarantee you will be entertained.

Any additional information can be found on the website, and I’ve added my video message from there for your enjoyment. I hope to see you this weekend.

Teen Reader Con

Shenendehowa Middle Schools
970 Route 146
Clifton Park, NY 12065