There’s little more that I have to say besides enjoy and share widely. Seriously, show everyone. And if you want to see this on the big screen, go see a movie at Colonie Center from 10/24-10/30

Pre-order PRESS PLAY

Good Morning Columbia HS…

This week, instead of the same ol’ same ol’ morning announcements, like the image above, the Blue Devils at Columbia High School have this coming at them:

Exactly. Deborah Lyman, the head librarian,  convinced the AV crew to plug my signing this Friday at Good Buy Books by waking up the school this week with my trailer. Somewhere Patrick Willems is smiling.

As am I. This is a pretty phenomenal way to promote reading, as well as support of local authors and businesses.

Therefore, I want to extend my thanks to Deborah, the AV crew, and Lynne from Good Buy Books. Jolting kids awake is fun, but doing so for a good cause is fantastic.

Lynne is hosting a signing/hangout on Friday from 6:30-8:30, snacks included. So please, tell your family and friends in East Greenbush. If you know a teen at Columbia, ask them if they’ve been paying attention to the announcements. Tell them you know me and that hanging out on Friday will be fun.

And then come on out. I’ll sign, crack corny jokes, and help teens feel comfortable with the act of reading. There’s no stigma, just good times.

See you Friday!

Good Buy Books: 330 Columbia Turnpike, Rensselaer, NY 12144, (518) 479-2665

Because the 17th is around the corner

This has been a busy start to what promises to be an even busier year. And amid returning back to school and all that such entails, the release and publication of Dare Me have been on my periphery.

Then, yesterday, a colleague asked me when Dare Me would be available. I went into the explanation that I must: “Well, if you pre-order, it will ship…” I had to pause because a calendar was coming into focus in my mind and I was confused. “It will ship on the seventeenth,” I said and paused.

I think my colleague understood I was trying to do the math, because she finished it for me and said, “Which is in five days!”

*Mind blown*

So today, I figured I’d remind all of you of this, and give a brief reason for why pre-orders matter. Ready for fun with publishing 101? Here goes:

If all goes according to plan, pre-orders stack up before the release date, and then once released, i.e. Dare Me on 9/17, those sales all count toward the first week’s sales numbers.

And that matters because?

Because those pre-orders help a publisher consider the size of the print run and the resources they may invest in promotion. Obviously the bigger the number, the more frenetic the happy dance.

So if you know you want to read Dare Me, go for it and pre-order. Options are available here. If you’re on the fence, know that I’m going to spend the next few weeks trying to convince you 🙂 The first nudge, the trailer below, in case you haven’t already seen it, as well as a list of events, in non-PDF form. Enjoy.

Trailer for Dare Me, created by Patrick Willems

Event               Signing

Location          Market Block Books, 290 River St  Troy, NY12180

Date & Time   9/21, 11 am – 1 pm


Event               Signing

Location          Clifton Park-Halfmoon Library, 475 Moe Rd  Clifton Park, NY 12065

Date & Time   10/1, 6-8 pm


Event               Troy Author Day–Panel Discussion & Signing

Location          Troy Public Library, 100 2nd St  Troy, NY12180

Date & Time   10/19, 12-3 pm


Event               Signing

Location          Barnes & Noble, 3029 State Route 50  Saratoga Springs, NY12866

Date & Time   10/20, 1-4 pm


Event               Release party & Signing

Location          McGreivey’s Restaurant, 91 Broad St  Waterford, NY12188

Date & Time   10/25, 4-7 pm


Event               Fundraising Book Fair & Signing

Location          Barnes & Noble, 131 Colonie Center #355  Albany, NY12205

Date & Time   12/6, 4-7 pm

If You’re Reading This, I’m at Work

It’s true, today I start back to my other job. I’ve enjoyed my summer vacation, feel as if I made headway on my current projects, and certainly enjoyed the time I spent with family and friends. But now I dig in, because so much lies ahead of me, and some pieces are similar to last year at this time, while others are entirely different.

On September 2nd, last year, Tap Out was nine days from its publication date, and I wrote, thanking a local English teacher for her praise of my work. At the time I did not realize that the release date had already passed–I didn’t know what that date was–and that along with everyone who’d received an Advanced Reader Copy, those who had pre-ordered were already reading and reviewing Tap Out. The early reviews were indicative of the way the remaining reviews would go: some love the story; some are offended by it. At first, the negative reviews bothered me, but I quickly got over them and focused on the critical praise that mattered, the reviews from the important publications, like Kirkus, as well as from those in the know, like Ann L.

Now, Dare Me is twenty-seven days from its publication date, with the release date of September 17th. Therefore, I know that in two weeks everyone who pre-ordered will be receiving copies, and I will be searching like mad following that date for reviews. I have also read the Kirkus review of Dare Me and know that it is astounding. So much so that it altered the cover of my novel. Further, I know there are scant reviews already from those with advanced copies, and that the feelings are mixed. As to be expected. Still, I do not have a review from any local teachers, so I’m waiting, because I know how busy they are about to get, and I know how much their opinion matters.

Unlike last year, my signings are all set, and I’ve posted them below. With an October 8th pub date, I have time to get these exact posters into classrooms across the region well before a number of my events. WNYT (channel 13) is interviewing me on 10/5, just like lat year, but sadly, the Times Union will not be running an article on Dare Me. I’m still scratching my head over how that played out.

No worries, though, because I have a good feeling about Dare Me. It’s another novel that will capture the attention of reluctant readers. It’s another novel that honestly explores the contemporary lives of teens without shying away from the hard facts and without making sure that in the end everything is all tucked neatly back together. That’s not how life works and that’s not how I envision my stories. This time last year I was praying that Tap Out would be accepted. It has been, on many levels, including by YALSA and Booklist. This year I am praying that Dare Me finds a wider audience, not because I’m greedy, but because, as I recently wrote to my editor, when we were discussing what’s next, “So yes, stories, I have them. Fingers crossed I manage to tell them well enough.” Trust me, there’s more to come.

And as it was this time last year, the same remains true today. I’m back at work, but really, I’m always working. Teaching and writing have such similar qualities: engage the audience, keep them enthralled, and leave them having learned something new. My lives intersect in one place, the blank page. I hope you enjoy what you find there.


I will most likely be including the trailer for Dare Me at the end of all of my posts from here until October. Enjoy.

Trailer for Dare Me, created by Patrick Willems

The Experience, Not Only the Results

August is the Sunday of summer. The days are shorter and already we’ve had nights that whisper about fall. And in those whispers I hear too much, because so much awaits me as I turn the calendar a find that gleaming September staring back, asking: You ready?

I don’t know.


Every September requires I go back to school. It’s a right of passage that most of us are glad to have outgrown, but that’s not an option for me. Nor is ignoring the changes in education: the Common Core State Standards. They exist and are being implemented with begrudging fanfare. However, I do consulting work on the side, and I have created numerous ELA lessons that align with the CCSS. They are, in a word, boring.

That’s not to say educators will only use the types I have seen and won’t create dynamic opportunities for their students, because that always happens, regardless of the mandate. The difference with this reform is the unspoken message that the standards are more of a curriculum than a series of benchmarks. Therefore, teachers are looking to deliver content in a method that addresses the tenants of the CCSS first, and the needs of the students, second. And therein lies the problem. When you move the content to the front of the classroom and place the students behind, you’ve already failed. I can teach an unengaged teenager almost nothing. But I can teach an engaged student anything. Good teachers find a way to reach the individual.

Now the struggle will be how to do both effectively. Those CCSS results are measured, and they count. But the immeasurable experience of the students matters even more.  Therefore, I posit that educators start by asking the students what they desire from their education and build from there. That’s pretty much how I go about writing.


Speaking of which, have you heard I have another novel coming out in just over a month? Seriously, if you pre-order Dare Me, it releases on September 17th. The thought of this makes me ill. Not because I don’t love this work. I do, and reviews are indicating that readers will, also. Really, my anxiety is similar to my issues with the CCSS.

As an author, I have to entice. The work must be strong, but so must be the delivery. I have to inform people that Dare Me exists without being an annoying beacon sending the message: Buy my book! Buy my book! Buy my book! Who listens to that guy?

Which is why I had the trailer created (below, in case you missed it), am lining up events (more on these, soon) and am harassing the local media for interviews. It is my hope that I am doing this well, am being creative and not annoying, and mostly, that I am engaging my audience, not shoving my work at them. Fortunately, I’ve had practice. Anyone who says teaching is for those who can’t, has never asked an educator to step into another set of shoes. That classroom is an unbelievable training ground.

What to do?

I promise that my students will be engaged with English education this year and that my readers will be engrossed by Dare Me. I will be behind the scenes hoping I’ve done a good job, but all the while knowing that regardless of the outcome, I’ll continue to strive for better. Not only for results (test scores and sales figures), but the experience.

Life is something to enjoy, not something to get through. Sadly, education and reading for so many are the latter, not the former. I am not comfortable with that idea. In my work as an educator and as an author, it is my intent to make the most of the time. Not only mine, but for those with whom I have contact. Because when those whispers start next summer, I want to be right here, preparing for another year, and another novel, knowing I’m doing the best I can with my time by providing education and stories that matter.