Status Update

LP release

When I get incredibly anxious, as I have been recently, I begin to doubt. Myself. My work. My voice. Then I shut down. I simply have no interest in communicating because I’m afraid what I might say. That I might reveal too much.

And this is what I have been anxious about and holding onto: I won’t have a book out in 2015.

That’s it, which I know is pretty ridiculous. Many authors do not publish a book a year. And so many unpublished authors would kill for my “problem”. Yet, at the same time, if it shut me down, I need to give it attention and not merely rationalize the feelings away.

I have spent close to two years working on LOOK PAST. It’s been downright exhausting, because I’ve had to push myself so very far as a writer. From interviews to research to simple plotting, the novel has high demands. And then this past summer, after receiving excellent advice from my agent, I rewrote the entire manuscript.

That rewrite paid off, because that is the version that sold. But it has sold with a caveat. The manuscript is due for yet another a massive overhaul, which is why you won’t see it until 2016.

Recently, after announcing the sale, I’ve had much congratulations, which I’ve enjoyed, but I am so thankful for my one friend, who after realizing I wouldn’t be releasing a book this upcoming fall, asked, “Are you okay with that?” He understood. I’ve been on a roll, and the momentum has helped fuel me. And now?

It’s a mere bump in the road, I’m sure. But from this juncture, eighteen months feels like an unplanned detour.

I’m coming around to the idea, and know it is for the best, but it’s been mentally taxing. Fortunately, writing is great therapy for me. So while I’ve been riddled with doubt, I’ve been writing. Just last week I finished the first draft of a novel that forced me to dig even deeper as a writer than I had to with LOOK PAST.

So, my takeaway is that maybe this is what happens when you push hard and you get way outside your comfort zone. It takes a little bit longer to assimilate all that has been learned. I’m holding onto that, now, instead of my anxieties, and know I will still enjoy fall of ’15, just not nearly as much as I will fall of ’16.

 

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Thanks, for PRESS PLAY, and beyond

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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.

MBB

The Anticipation of What’s Next

For the second year in a row I have had the opportunity to work through the dark and cold of winter, to emerge into spring with the anticipation of my novel’s publication.

This past week, while in NYC, I had the opportunity to meet my agent, Kate McKean. She’s sold two of my novels and has helped transform me into the writer I am today, so it made sense to finally talk face-to-face. We had lunch and the opportunity to sit and discuss. Meeting Kate was more like talking to an old friend than it was having a business engagement, which was ideal. This is a weird, artistic, and very personal field. Yet, it’s still business. So for this to work, a lot of pieces need to click. And they did. So, thank you, Kate.

However, during our conversation, one question affected me more than the rest: “So what’s next?” This wasn’t a cautious curiosity. Kate wanted to know what I’m working on, because the expectation is that I am working on something. Because that’s what writers do. And even though people ask me this question all the time, it has never felt as profound as when I was seated across from someone with the power to turn the answer into reality. So I was happy that my response was greeted with laughter and then intrigue. Yeah, I’ve got some interesting things coming down the pipe, and I have no doubt Kate will keep asking the same question.

Then, on Friday, I received word that Dare Me is scheduled for publication on October 10th. Pre-order is available, and the cover image will be released soon. I know I teased before, but seriously, the reveal will be worth it.

With this news in hand, I immediately examined the calendar, strategizing for when I should hold a release party and signings. It’s six months out, but I’m already getting excited. And I hope all of you who are reading this are as well. Because the fun for me is the process. Write, release, and celebrate. Without you, this isn’t nearly as exciting.

I like this cycle, this building anticipation. And I like that its reach has expanded. Because, who knows what’s next?

One project at a time?

Sorry, I had to use a Tard image, because I love his grumpy face. Also, he answered the title question perfectly.

I am currently working on three projects, one of which I’ll provide a bit of a teaser for at the end, so keep reading. It seems insane to be working on three books at once, but it also is the only way to survive. I must be ahead of the curve and always prepared with new material. Plus, it’s a hell of a lot of fun to move form one intense world to the next. Here’s a peek at each.

First, my next novel, Dare Me, will be released in the fall by Running Press. I don’t have an exact date, but I do have a cover image (hint, hint). I have to complete at least one more pass of the manuscript based on my editor’s notes. Fingers crossed it’s only one. From inception to now, I’ve had two major passes that physically hurt. But the pain is worth it because the finished project, a story of YouTube daredevils going from daring to death-defying, will be fantastic. It is not as dark as Tap Out but the intensity remains. When it’s complete, I’ll offer some teaser excerpts.

Second, as I’m finishing up Dare Me, my agent is reading the novel I wrote this past summer and fall. It has a tentative title, and my first reader loved it. He was even surprised by the ending, which I think amazed both of us. But I cannot give away too much, because until my agent gives the green light, the manuscript is just that, not quite ready for the “novel” label.

Third, I am currently working on a novel that is far and away the largest departure from my comfort zone. Yet, also something I’ve always wanted to write. I’m researching as much as I’m writing and am having a great time watching this story come together. Here’s hoping I can see it through in the next couple of months.

Last year at this time I never would have thought I was going to be this far down the rabbit hole. But now, I find it to be the only place I want to be. I hope you continue to enjoy and share Tap Out, and I look forward to offering you more work so that you can continue.

*Teaser*

You made it this far, so here’s a tiny slice of the cover to Dare Me. Enjoy:

Dare Me excerpt

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.

Can I get a little help?

As authors, we write, market, build platforms, create connections, and successfully live in both the virtual and real world. We do all this because that’s the job. That is not a complaint, but a fact. People with more intelligence on the matter will discuss tribes and such, and of course they are correct. But what underlies all this activity is a four-letter word: Help.

For me, someone who is ruggedly independent (at least in my mind), I struggle with that. I don’t like asking for help, and certainly do not like to the idea that I might need it. Yet, that word and all it embodies is precisely what every author needs. I didn’t get a publishing contract without my agent. Heck, I didn’t get my writing up to spec without a writers group. And now I continue to try and raise awareness for who I am and what my work is all about on social media outlets. Social media. A multitude. Of people who help.

I am new to the social platform, and not surprisingly, am hit or miss. Yet, I recently had the opportunity to help another writer, who in the past has helped me. None of this would have occurred without our connected lifestyle. And that opportunity, more than any article I’ve read or conversation I’ve heard has made all the difference, because it had nothing to do with me helping me.

I think the term “Karma” is overused and often misapplied, but maybe it works for this situation? If so, then I feel better about “getting myself out there.” Because shouting for attention does not interest me. But seeing the circular help does.

And as I consider my work as an author, this fact doesn’t surprise me. Every piece I have ever written has an element of someone needing help–the one thing I’m afraid of seeking.

Well, then, as Whitman said, “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.”

Don’t we all? Therefore, I’m coming to terms with platform and attention-seeking and all the rest, as I’m sure so are many of you. I would offer then a paradigm shift on the perspective of help. We still need to help ourselves, but more importantly, answer this: How can what you post, tweet or share assist not only you, but that multitude who has your back?

Feel free to help me figure it out.

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.