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How anxiety can lead to a two-book deal…

Time for truth telling.

I have had high anxiety that, as an author, I would be a one-note song. That the Scar Boys and Scar Girl — which are really one long, quasi-autobiographical story — were the only good things I would ever write.

As my agent shopped a new manuscript (tentatively called House of Stone) — unconnected to The Scar Boys or to music or to the 1980s, and not drawn from personal experience — I watched as one editor after another rejected the book.

“It’s too adult to publish as YA.”
“It’s too young to publish as adult.”
“The third person narrative and ensemble cast won’t connect with readers.”
“You’re a loser and you should die.” Okay, no one actually said that, but I think maybe that’s what they meant, right? There’s nothing like rejection to breed self doubt.

But writing is nothing if not an exercise in perseverance. I decided not to edit the manuscript based on the rejections I was receiving (as some confidants were advising). I guess I just believed in the book enough to hope it would find a home.

My patience paid off. I’m thrilled to say that I accepted an offer from Cindy Loh, editor extraordinaire and publisher at Bloomsbury Kids, to publish House of Stone. You can see the announcement, here.

Scar Girl will publish in Spring 2016 (from my other new publisher, Lerner), House of Stone in spring 2017 from Bloomsbury, and the book to be named later, well, later.

Much more to come about all of this, but for now, while I still have plenty of anxiety, I am one insanely, incredibly happy, and very lucky dude.

Thank you Bloomsbury!!!!!!

The Scar Boys in the Media

Apparently when you write a book, other people want to write about it, want to write about you, or sometimes, want you to write something for their blog. Who knew? Here’s a round-up of some Scar Boys media:

“A wry, stylish tale.” — New York Times

Reviews Interviews Guest Posts & More
New York Times WMSE Radio (Milwaukee) Scar Boys YouTube Channel
IndieBound Connecticut Post Scar Boy Event Photos
SLJ Starred Review Kirkus Reviews Bestseller List Apperances
SLJ 2 and SLJ 3 Dear Teen Me
Publishers Weekly Publishers Weekly Top Ten Road Trips
Booklist I Read Banned Books Power Song
WORD Bookstores Guys Lit Wire Cross Pollination
McJ 1 and McJ 2 Compulsive Reader On Writing
Haiku Review Mother Daughter Book Club Scar Boys Back Story
Teen Book Crew A. L. Davroe Blog Wish I’d Written
Little Book Star Kelly Vision Blog My Holidays Music
Rather Be Reading    
Books on the Night Stand    
A Librarian’s Take    
Books and Quilts    
Strung Out on Books    
Waking Brain Cells    
Deseret News    
Mabel’s Fables (Toronto)    
Pima County Public Library    


First Scar Boys Book Event

FergLibrary-Presenting-smAnd so it begins…

This afternoon at the Harry Bennett Branch of the Ferguson Library (Stamford, Connecticut’s public library), I presented The Scar Boys to T-MAD (Teen’s Making a Difference), the library’s teen advisory board. The book doesn’t pub for another three months (January 21), so this was as pre-pub as a pre-pub event can get. In fact, this is the first event for The Scar Boys, anywhere. (A much larger, invitation-only event is scheduled for later this month at Anderson’s in Naperville, IL.)

I do fifteen to twenty presentations a year for my day job, and at the risk of sounding immodest, I’m pretty good at it. I’m energized when I’m teaching and am comfortable on a stage. But today? Today I was flat-out freaked out.

FergLibrary-LexiSings-smI lugged my guitar, my computer, my Bose Soundlink, and a borrowed LCD projector to the library. The first few teens to arrive eyed me with suspicion as I set up. I didn’t know what to expect, and neither did they.

By the time I started, there were about twenty kids ranging from sixth to twelfth grade. They sat patiently as I played a video of Woofing Cookies and eased my way into the presentation. When the first hand went up to ask a question a few minutes into the session, and a dialogue began, the butterflies went away.

The kids were engaged and engaging. No, as Harry would say, “strike that,” the kids were wonderful.

My presentation had visuals, video, music (including live music), a reading, and lots of conversation. The highlight was when an eleventh grader named Lexi came up to the stage, took my guitar, and sang a Jason Mraz song. Lexi’s love of music, and the way the rest of the teens cheered her on, was a perfect expression of what is at the heart of The Scar Boys.

FergLibrary-SigningBooks-smMy favorite moment came when Andres, a high school boy, raised his hand: “I don’t read a lot,” he said, “but I read this book in two days, and I loved it.” That’s probably the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me. Anywhere.

A huge thanks to T-MAD organizers Amy and Steve, thank you to all the kids, and thanks to Kristen and Charlie for being there. If future book events are half as fun as this, 2014 is going to be a great year.

The Scar Boys gets a cover!

Cover art for The Scar Boys

My publisher, Egmont USA, commissioned a graphic artist to design a cover for The Scar Boys, and I L-O-V-E the result!

Actually, Egmont offered two alternate covers (see below) and enlisted the help of America’s indie booksellers to choose a final treatment. Nearly 100 booksellers voted, and while I would have been incredibly happy with either cover, I’m thrilled with the final choice.

Thank you booksellers… You. Are. Awesome!

(I can’t wait to see it actually in print…)

Here’s the winner:

Cover art for The Scar Boys

And here’s the runner-up:

Scar Boys cover losing image

What do you think?