At a Glance: Six Months of Promo and Events for Dare Me

I have been promoting Dare Me for the past six months. It was fun, exhausting and very rewarding. However, I am glad that the crunch is over. The time and energy it takes is extensive and wreaks havoc on anything else scheduled––you know like the rest of my life 🙂

That’s not a complaint, just a simple fact. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love the craziness, and I’m fortunate enough to be doing it all over again for my next novel, which will be released in the fall (details to come).

Therefore, for those of you who might be interested, I’ve outlined all that I did, or that happened regarding Dare Me for half of a year. Many authors do more, and many do less. This is what I did, and I hope it illustrates the business of books on the personal level. Because trust me, if I were to write about the behind-the-scenes work, this post would have to run for a week straight.

July 2013

I didn’t get started until the end of the month, but I kicked things off with a bang, releasing my trailer for Dare Me through a blast, released by over 50 bloggers, worldwide. There was a copy of the novel and a t-shirt giveaway that netted over 5,500 entries. Not bad, right?

Then I wrote an article for one of my favorite librarians and her site Teen Librarian’s Toolbox, titled “Careening with our youth culture“. It’s all about why teens like to do crazy things, and especially why I felt compelled to do some of my own. It was paired with a giveaway, too.

August 2013

August is always busy, and so I only managed to release the flyer for all of my scheduled events for Dare Me. I put it on Scribd, which made sharing so easy.

September

My publisher printed 200 copies of those same flyers I posted to Scribd and I sent them to local high schools at the start of the school year.

Then I had my Dear Teen Me letter posted. Go read it, if you haven’t. It’s awesome.

I then held my first signing at Market Block Books.

October

Dare Me was published in October, so things got cooking. I was interviewed by our local WNYT affiliate, and then held these signings and events:

Signing @   Clifton Park-Halfmoon Library

Signing and panel discussion Troy Author Day @ Troy Public Library

Signing @ Barnes & Noble:  Saratoga Springs

Release party & Signing @ McGreivey’s Restaurant

During this time I also ran a five-day giveaway for Dare Me as a build up to the publishing day.

I also received this awesome review from Kirkus

November

I was interviewed by Kori Miller of Back Porch Writer for her podcast. It was a blast, and if you have a half hour, go listen.

Awesomeness hit in November when I went to NCTE. I signed copies of Dare Me and met English teachers from around the country. A couple of my colleagues even showed up, which was so nice. And then I met a few authors whose work I love, and I even got my picture taken with A.S. King.

December

The last month of the year started out fantastic with both the LA Times and the Chicago Tribune selecting Dare Me for their holiday books gift guides for Young Adults.

Then I got to use my author status for some good by participating in a signing/fundraiser for the High School I work for at another, local Barnes and Noble. If you have kids or are an author and teacher like me, contact B&N and set up a Book Fair. So simple, yet so effective.

January

The American Library Association’s Widwinter Meeting was held in Philadelphia this year, home of my publisher, Running Press. Therefore, I got to go to the city of brotherly love, sign, meet awesome librarians, and then have a blast wining and dining with everyone from Running Press and some of my pub siblings. I even met Daniel Kraus while at our cocktail party. I refrained from getting all fanboy and we had an awesome chat.

For the duration

I ran four giveaways at Goodreads, at various times throughout these six months. I now have only two copies of those I receive from my publisher left. But it was worth it, as close to 2,500 people entered the giveaways and, therefore, have Dare Me on their radar.

Now

Phew. That was a lot. Or maybe it was just enough. Possibly there was more I could have done. I have no idea, because that’s the impossibility of any business. Some analytics cannot be measured.

So what matters to me are the answers to these questions:

Did I have fun? Yes.

Did all of this enrich my life? Yes.

Would I do it all over again? Absolutely.

And I will, in another six months. Be sure to join me, and thank you if you did this time around.

Thanks, ALA Midwinter

Philly

I could go on and on about how awesome ALA Midwinter was, but I have to keep this brief because I’m in the middle of edits for my next novel. More on that later because I don’t think anything’s official yet 🙂

However, I do want to extend a huge thanks to all the librarians I got to meet at my signing on Saturday. It was so wonderful to see such enthusiasm over YA lit, and my work, specifically. I also need to thank Running Press, who made my attendance possible. They keep supporting me on so many levels that I can’t truly express how much I appreciate them.

Also, I wanted to post my trailer again for all the librarians to whom I mentioned its existence. It’s great material for a book talk, and I truly hope it inspires some readers. And if it does, have them tweet, email, or in any way let me know they enjoyed.

Thanks, again.

Trailer for Dare Me, created by Patrick Willems

Belated New Year

Last week, post Holidays, I wanted to write something profound. New Year, new insights, etc. That didn’t happen.

After a very nice Christmas with my family, I got very ill. Fortunately, not with the stomach bug that’s going around, but with either a severe reaction to a medicine I took, or the coincidence of having taken that medicine at the same time I got ill.

Either way, New Year’s Eve morning, 2 am, I awoke shivering, and could not stop. I didn’t have a fever, and my joints throbbed as if I’d just done Olympic lifts for a day straight.

Of course we had company on the way for that night, and my wife had put in hours of prep time, so I wouldn’t think of it when she suggested cancelling. I said hey to my friends when they arrived and then spent the night in my room under covers, watching HGTV and trying not to shiver.

I saw the ball drop only because I dragged myself out of bed to do so, and then I plugged in earbuds to drown out my now very loud friends, and went to sleep.

This went on for a couple of days. During that time, I barely ate and mostly sat in the corner reading The Walking Dark. I think reading something about the plague would have been more appropriate.

I managed to recover enough to eat meals, and to have conversations, and eventually return to work, now that break is over. I’m still not 100%. This rattle in my chest needs to go. But, in spite of a lousy end to my time off, break was excellent.

With two young daughters, Christmas is a grand event, and I cherish how much they love it. And then we had snow and they played in it, and then I was well enough to make zombies and snow angels.

Being temporarily ill affords you the perspective that life will get better and reminds you to appreciate it when it does. So possibly that’s my insight for the New Year. It’s not exactly a new one for me, but an appropriate reminder of just how good I have it.

So here’s to 2014. I’ll have another novel out in the fall. I don’t yet know when I can talk about it, but I promise I will, and hopefully you will all enjoy.

Preferably, not while ill, wrapped in blankets, shivering.

Some Good News & My Last Event of The Year

LA Times

I begin each of my classes with Good News from my students. They talk about how happy they are about finally getting enough sleep, or seeing THE MOVIE that’s out, or just getting to hang with friends. Simple stuff that should not be overlooked. Because all those little things, sometimes they are the big things. I don’t offer good news, because it is about them and not me, but I can share some with you.

Now, I did make the rounds with this on Facebook and Twitter, so if it’s redundant, I apologize. But I think it’s worth repeating that both the LA Times and the Chicago Tribune have included Dare Me in their holiday gift guides for books for Young Adults. It’s pretty fantastic that my work is on the radar of such institutions. Now I can only hope that parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. start showing up to their bookstores looking for Dare Me. I do hope they remember my name or at least the cover image, or they may end up with Megan Abbott’s YA novel of the same name. A phenomenal story, but wholly different than mine.

Please feel free to share this gift idea with family and friends. Dare Me has appeal for both males and females. I’ve read reviews from teen readers and they love it all around. And also feel free to share the next bit as well.

B&N 2013

This Friday, December 6th, I will be taking part in a signing/fundraiser at Barnes and Noble in Colonie for Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School. I’m there from 4-7, but the fundraiser goes on all day. The school gets a percentage of total sales so long as patrons use the certificates at the register. There are piles of them at the checkout, but students will also be handing them out along with candy canes and other goodies. Additionally, we have gift baskets up for raffle, and last, but not least, it’s Polar Express night.

At 7:00, the staff hand out cookies and hot chocolate and read the classic Christmas tale to the children in the store. I can’t think of a better way to support the community, get in the Christmas spirit, and have a fun Friday out.

I hope to see you on there, and I promise to pass along any additional good news between now and then. Trust me, like all good gifts, I’ve got some on the way.

Feeling the Love at NCTE

This past weekend at the National Council of Teachers of English Annual Convention was all about feeling the love. I know the motto was (Re) Inventing the Future of English, but that’s some title someone decided was necessary to give us direction. As if English teachers need any 🙂

For me, however, it was a trip of double-duty. I was there as an author and as an educator. Therefore, the experience was very symbolic of the differences in the two worlds in which I live, as well as the connections.

Prior to walking into the Hynes Convention Center, I had to stop at the Barnes and Noble in the mall to pick up a book suggested by my agent. While there, I just had to peek. Yup, there sat Dare Me, ready for purchase. I loved this fact.

photo (3)

Following this, I walked the exhibit hall, checking out the publisher and vendor booths. There was an alarming amount of materials and software programs available for purchase. All of it geared toward making our lives as educators easier, and somehow capable of this (re) invention. These booths were sparsely populated. The English teachers that did dare, dodged sales pitches and tried to assess the products for their merit.

The publisher booths were not sparsely attended; they were packed. Albeit, many were giving away books, so that’s an obvious draw. And many had famous authors signing, another enormous plus. However, the lines for these booths told the real story. English teachers, who were spending days being told how to (re) everything within the classroom, were willing to spend time in line, waiting for a book and a moment with an author. That’s so very telling. Educators clearly understood the power of returning to a classroom with books, and especially those signed and dedicated to their students.

This I adore, because it doesn’t get much more basic than a class and kids and books. No (re) invention here. Just the foundational basics that are necessary and that work, with the bonus of a dedication––possibly a promise for what may be achieved by reading.

I too, stood in line. For Bill Konigsberg’s Openly Straight. It’s an excellent story of a teen who tries to cast off a label, but ultimately understands the futility in denying oneself ownership of who he is. Bill was wonderful. Happy to have a fellow author, but more happy to have me as a reader and teacher, willing to share his novel with students who might not necessarily find it otherwise. Yes, I totally love this combination.

photo (5)

I love it almost as much as I love this next picture:

IMG_4646

Two of my colleagues, Laurie Berner and Kim Shell, attended the conference and texted me this picture while they were in between sessions. I love them for taking the time to check out the booth where my work was displayed and letting me know they cared. This is the perfect blend of my two worlds.

photo

I’m not going to lie; this is one of my favorite pics from the weekend: me signing away. My hour flew by, as I spoke with and signed for educators, excited to bring my work back to their students. All my books went, and I  can only hope that the students who read, remember to reach out to me afterward. I so want to hear their feedback. Because in spite of the audience of adults, I write for teens, and appreciate their insight.

photo (2)

And look who showed up again. How could I not love this?

photo (4)

And here is possibly the highlight of my event: meeting A.S. King. She has written some of the best YA lit I’ve read, and having the opportunity to say hey and have a picture taken with her was a true honor. But what I loved about this moment is two-fold. One, she actually knew who I was. I’m sorry, but that recognition went straight through me and I am positive I blushed form head to toe. Two, I loved the down-to-earth nature she possesses. I had heard that meeting her would be very chill, but it was more chill than I had imagined.

We had signings at the same time, so I made a bee line to her both, after mine, and there she was, talking away with another fan, like she had all the time in the world for us. And she gave us that time. I can only imagine how many students will now benefit from the teachers who picked up her work and will now gladly bring it back to their classrooms, full of praise for the author and her stories. THIS is exactly why educators need more if this experience. It changes the dynamic and makes books so much more authentic.

Beah_Ishmael_c_JohnMadereRADIANCE_1

My last event of the conference was a luncheon with teachers and a keynote address from Ishmael Beah, author of the memoir A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, and the soon-to-be-released novel, Radiance of Tomorrow. The dichotomy of the event could not have been more striking. As educators we sat and talked about the highs and lows of the conference, from the CCLS to just what mixed-modal meant. We examined and considered the title of the weekend. And then Beah spoke.

His speech was beautiful, and within it was the promise of everything we as educators hope for: finding a better way through language.

However, Beah comes from an oral tradition culture. His writing is infused with such, as was his speech. And the irony for me was profound. Beah spoke of learning narrative structure and of how to be a good listener and ultimately practitioner of the tradition and upstanding member of the community through storytelling. That’s it. It all boiled down to the stories. Speaking them. Listening to them. And owning them in a way so that you could retell them.

And for me that struck such a chord. Because as an author and educator this is exactly what I’m trying to do. I want to write well enough so that readers are engaged. I want them to be so invested that they then take ownership of the story and share it with others, so that the process continues. The same holds true in education. Regardless of the delivery, the stories I tell via a lesson plan or that the students create on their own through an essay or a presentation, the concept remains. Learn how to love the story and it will become a part of you, and you will be a part of it, and in the process both will grow.

It’s funny that it took a conference about (re) invention to bring this to light. Because we’re already there, always have been. We just need to remember what that looks like.

So thank you to everyone I met. I hope you share my work, and I hope your students enjoy it, and allow it to inform them, and then pass it along. I hope their stories grow from mine.

Maybe we can all reinvent ourselves, just not through an artificial application, but through the very organic aspect of stories. What’s there not to love in this? 

 

 

Back Porch Writer Interview

A couple of weeks ago I was fortunate enough to be interviewed by Kori Miller of Back Porch Writer, which is  a site dedicated to podcasts about all things writing. We spent a half hour talking about Young Adult literature, my books, and writing in general. If you have a half hour in which you’d like to listen to my insight about what I write and why I write it, please do so. Kori conducts a great interview and if you’re an author looking for some exposure, contact her. I had a blast.

Enjoy!

Listen: here

From the UncommonYA blog, “F. This.”

UncommonYA – Blog.

F. This.

11/08/2013

 

Picture

by Eric DevineWriting should be more of a mirror to society than a portrait. I believe if we are writing well, then we are telling truths about what exists, not only how we want to see the world behave. These truths are often labeled dark or edgy or gritty, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with these adjectives. However, the problem arises when they become synonymous with controversial.The term controversial is a universal call for someone to get up in arms. And today, some people savor the whiff of controversy, so that they can use it as a platform to discuss their opinions, shoot others down in an online flame war, or even worse, twist the premise of the original controversy for personal gain.

And yet we wonder why authors tell stories about the darkness of humanity?

I am fortunate that I teach teenagers every day. Focusing on stories and structure and the power of words with adolescents reveals what every Young Adult author should know: they are real people with flaws.

Shocking, I know.

But considering how much adults talk about and write about and spend energy on keeping books with dark material away from teens, maybe it is. The premise of these well-intentioned adults is two-fold: 1. Teens don’t need to read about “this” (whatever inappropriate topic has been deemed such). 2. If they do, like those “gateway drugs”, they’ll learn things that will open doors down terrible paths.

And this is when I get irate.

Teens swear, make bad choices, get in fights, have sex, do drugs, and experience such inhumanity from one another, it makes my soul cringe. However, this has been the case since I was in high school, close to twenty years ago, and I doubt it’s a new development. The speed and intensity of ithas changed, via social media and technology. Yet, do you know where this, and the aforementioned issues are dealt with, where lessons are learned by characters, so that others may vicariously learn? You guessed it?

And if that source material, the handbooks for how-things-might-go-down, is shot through a rosy lens, what has been taught? That these events are fine. That doing these things is okay. That treating one another like dirt leaves you feeling awesome.

I understand the premise of the adults. I sincerely do. But they are wrong. I have never seen a child “break bad” because of a book he or she read. I have never heard a teen interviewed by an administrator for something heinous he or she has done and claim a book as the source of the idiocy.

It doesn’t happen.

Teens learn from one another, from the internet, from their parents, from their teachers––probably in this order. If a teen is reading books, hoping to find something to help navigate these rough waters, we should applaud them, give them a medal and then beg them to pass the stories on. Because many teens do not read. They spend extensive time watching Vines and YouTube videos and on Twitter and on Facebook. And they cut one another down from the safety of the keyboard, and unless no one or no story jars them from this, they grow into adults, who make decisions about content, hear the word controversial and fall into the loop society––not books––has created.

Want to see if I walk the walk? Check out either Tap Out or Dare Me.

Find fearless author Eric Devine online:


Website
Eric Devine Facebook
Eric Devine Author Page, Facebook 
Twitter
Buy Eric’s books:
Dare Me, Tap Out, This Side of NormalAmazon US, Amazon Canada: Dare MeTap OutThis Side of Normal; Barnes & Noble: Dare MeTap Out;  IndieBound

“A boy who knows only grinding despair finds hope within the walls of a gym. . . . This is bound to have huge appeal.” School Library Journal Teen
“Devine instantly captures your attention and holds it until the very end. . . . The storyline, the drama and the characters were all thoroughly put together.” Publishers Weekly

“Devine doesn’t pull any punches.” http://foreveryoungadult.com/2013/10/09/whats-the-matter-mcfly-chicken/

Tap Out: a 2013 YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Readers AND a 

2013 Top 10 Sports Book for Youth: Booklist

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

My “Other” Audience

I have come to the realization that I don’t write for teens. I mean, I do, but let’s consider this: the majority of you reading this post are adults, and you are here primarily because you’ve read my work. Therefore, it stands to reason that as much as I envision my audience as under eighteen, I could be completely wrong.

And I’m okay with that.

Recently, the topic of adults reading YA books has received heavy consideration. If you’d like to read more deeply about this, go here, here or here. I find the issue intriguing for a number of reasons, but mostly because from my perspective, at signings and promotional events, I don’t see a lot of teens. I see adults of various ages, buying for a friend, a cousin, a niece, a nephew, a son, a daughter. However, they ALL say they same thing, “I’ll read this first to see how it is.”

It’s difficult to hold back a smirk. I sincerely appreciate that my novels will eventually make their way into the hands of teens––if those teens exist­­––but I have to wonder if this purchase, ostensibly for someone else, is a ploy, and if these adults are purchasing what they deem guilty pleasures.

Now, I hate the term “guilty pleasures.” Like what you like, especially when it comes to reading. Don’t let someone knock what you read because it isn’t in line with what they want you to be reading. The mere fact that you as an adult are reading is wonderful, because it’s not the standard.

I’ve talked to enough adults who haven’t read a novel since high school. I’ve talked to plenty of adults who stopped reading for pleasure in college because the classics bored them to death, and the suggested contemporary, adult lit, was more of the same. These same adults will say to me about my work, “I haven’t read a book that I was unable to put down in so long, I’ve forgotten that feeling.”

And that, right there, is everything.

The nature of this issue boils down to one point: storytelling. I don’t care if it’s a classic from the canon, a children’s picture book, some chic new adult genre, or YA, if the story grabs you and won’t let go, that’s awesome. And as I’ve said before, the goal for my work is for it to be awesome. Sure it can be other things, too: deep, intriguing, dark, gritty­­––but it has to be awesome. Because that is the hallmark of good storytelling. You want it to go on. You’re angry when it’s over, but also elated because it was such a thrill. And you know you’ll recommend the story to others, and you’ll think about it for days and weeks to come. It will become a piece of you.

Young Adult lit does that. It has that power. So does adult lit, and children’s lit. But YA is unique in that it has the power to wake up something inside of you that has lain dormant. All those intense teen emotions. They haven’t gone away. You haven’t really grown up. You’ve only gotten older.

And once you’re comfortable with that notion, once you abandon the idea of guilty pleasures, because of age, the reading landscape will open to you. And it is full of capital A, awesome.

Go, read it all. And if you need suggestions, I’m here for you. 

Launch Party Thanks

My launch party for Dare Me was this past Friday, and it was awesome. Not only because it was at a bar, during happy hour, and not only because the turnout was wonderful. It was an excellent event because of the vibe created.

I’ve done a fair amount of signings/events, and it’s near-to-impossible to feel anything more than a bookish flair when you’re in a library or bookstore. But at McGreivery’s, surrounded by Halloween decorations, people burning off steam on a Friday afternoon, and a genuine interest in my work, I felt more than happy to be perched in my corner, taking it all in.

Writing is a solitary act. It’s 5:15 AM as I write this. My house is quiet and the sun isn’t up, but I’ve been awake for close to an hour, clacking at my keyboard. And this is my job morning after morning, including summers.

So when I am afforded the opportunity to go out and meet with people who enjoy what I’ve created, especially in an environment that it less stuffy and more “shot-friendly”, it’s difficult not to be appreciative. All those hours alone so that I can get together with people and say, “Damn, we did this,” are worth it.

Because, yes, I did. But so did you. Because I’m not here without your support. So I offer my sincerest THANKS! I fully intend to keep up my end of this relationship, and I know you’ll do the same.

Read Dare Me, love it, and then share with people how you feel. Offer some of that vibe. Do it in the real world or virtually, but let them know about this party they can get in on.

Because as the saying goes, the more the merrier.

MCG