"I'm Gonna Die This Spring (So Let's Make Out Tonight)"

Hey everybody! My 2nd book came out! That's right, DENTON LITTLE'S STILL NOT DEAD is out in the world and you should buy it right now.

And to celebrate, here's a song!

 

On page 25 of DENTON LITTLE'S DEATHDATE, Denton mentions a song he wrote and performed at the school variety show. This is that song. I've been talking about writing it for, like, 2 years now, and I finally did, just in time for the STILL NOT DEAD launch party.

Enjoy.

 

Really Deep Conversations is back with DAVID LEVITHAN!

Well, folks, I haven't had a new REALLY DEEP CONVERSATIONS WITH YA AUTHORS episode since March, so it's about damn time. And this one's kind of amazing because it's with THE MAYOR OF YA himself, DAVID LEVITHAN! We actually filmed this episode in July, but I promise everything in it is still highly relevant.

Topics discussed include (if you click on Youtube link, you can go directly to any of these topics!):

*David’s start in the publishing industry (2:01)
*the creative impulse behind Boy Meets Boy (4:25)
*David talks LGBT books (7:56)
*strides made by We Need Diverse Books(9:41)
*David’s writing schedule(12:36)
*collaborating with: Nina LaCour(13:58)
                                    Rachel Cohn(14:26)
                                    Andrea Cremer(17:27)
                                   John Green(19:25)
*the NICK AND NORAH movie (20:47)
*editing The Hunger Games and whether or not David knew it was gonna be a hit(23:35)
*David’s advice for writers (27:41)
*David’s book recommendations (29:01)
*david levithan’s awesome office tour!! !!!! !  (30:58)

Books mentioned:
Boy Meets Boy, by David Levithan
Every Day, by David Levithan
Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
You Know Me Well, by Nina LaCour and David Levithan
Weetzie Bat, by Francesca Lia Block
Baby Be-Bop, by Francesca Lia Block
Geography Club, by Brent Hartinger
Keeping You a Secret, by Julie Anne Peters
The Bermudez Triangle, by Maureen Johnson
The Rainbow Books, by Alex Sanchez
Totally Joe and the Misfits, by James Howe
Proxy, by Alex London
George, by Alex Gino
Invisibility, by Andrea Cremer and David Levithan
Will Grayson, Will Grayson, by John Green and David Levithan
The Twelve Days of Dash & Lily, by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
Harry Potter, by J.K. Rowling
Kill the Boy Band, by Goldy Moldavsky
The Haters, by Jesse Andrews
Shades of Darkness, by A.R. Kahler

Hope you enjoy this episode. More to come soon! And if you wanna see me and/or David Levithan in person, come to YALLFest next week in Charleston, SC!

Broadway Bounty Hunter and other stuff

So I've more or less dropped off the face of the internet the past weeks because I've been hard at work on this musical. Man oh man, Broadway Bounty Hunter is coming together in a glorious way, and I think it's going to be a very fun show. If you're in or near the Berkshires from August 12th - September 4th, please come check it out. It's an incredible cast led by the wonderful Annie Golden (Norma Romano in Orange is the New Black), and I'm really proud of the work we're all doing. 

Other fun things:

Denton Little's Deathdate won the ILA Young Adult Award for 2016! That was incredibly surprising and surreal and I still feel like it didn't actually happen. Thanks, ILA. Reading is everything, and it's a huge honor to receive this award.

I loved being on Sarah Enni's First Draft podcast. We talked about teen dramas, reader expectations, acting vs. writing, and my father's love for Dick Francis books.

The Lance and Ray Show came back with our first ep in a while, featuring my amazing editor sister Mariel Rubin as a guest. 

That's all the fun I have for now! Come September, I'll be much more present on social media. Enjoy the rest of summer! Hope you're reading a lot of books and playing lots of freeze tag. 

COVERPALOOZA

In the past week, I revealed TWO BRAND NEW DENTON COVERS. They were designed by Angela Carlino at Random House Children's, with artwork by Mathieu Persan, and I'm incredibly psyched about both of them. 

First, the paperback edition of Denton Little's Deathdate.

Look at that likable skeleton chauffeur! Love that guy. Read more about the cover and Denton at Me, My Shelf, & I, where it had its official cover reveal

Second, my new book, Denton Little's Still Not Dead, coming out February 7th, 2017.

It is the hilarious, thrilling sequel to Denton Little's Deathdate. It is all about how the skeleton chauffeur retires from chauffeuring and doesn't know what to do with his life so he gets really into chess. (See, you think the tagline is about Denton, but it's actually about the skeleton. That's the twist.) (OH SHOOT I JUST RUINED THE TWIST) Read more about the sequel at YA Interrobang, where it had its official cover reveal.

And then go listen to this song by Mates of State, which I listened to about 500 times while writing the new book.

Official Announcement About DENTON 2: NEW TITLE! RELEASE DATE!

Everything about this photo is a lie.

Everything about this photo is a lie.

Dearest friends and readers.

Many of you have understandably been quite perplexed as to the whereabouts of the second Denton book. You get to the end of the first one, you see the page that's pictured here, you head to the internet excitedly, and THEN YOU CAN'T FIND A SINGLE THING ABOUT THE BOOK. 

I wish I could say I planned that as part of some J.J. Abrams-esque secrecy marketing scheme (I'm realizing I seriously should have done that), but I did not. I most certainly did not.

In an alternate reality, the book was supposed to come out TODAY, actually. But in our actual reality, the book's release got delayed for various reasons, and then all info about it was temporarily obliterated from the world. Right now, however, I am excited to finally, officially tell you what's up.

First off, the book has a brand new title:

Denton Little's Still Not Dead

And secondly, it has a brand new release date:

February 7th, 2017.

Thank you for your patience, and huge thanks to everyone who reached out to ask me what the deal is with the second book. Can't tell you how much it means to me that you care.

More information and a cover reveal to follow in the coming months, but at least now you know THE THING EXISTS.

Because it does. It's written. And I really can't wait for you to read it.

 

Books I Loved That You Should Also Consider Reading, Too, As Well: Installment One

I shared lots of love for many books last year on social media, and I want to start this year by mentioning all those wonderful reads on here for easy, all-in-one-place consumption. There will be a number of posts, five books at a time, in no particular order, over the next couple months. Here’s we go!

My Heart and Other Black Holes, by Jasmine Warga

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This was the first 2015 debut book I read (that wasn’t my own), and I was only ten pages in when I thought, “Hot damn, the 2015 debut bar is set high.” For a book that deals with such a dark subject matter—depressed protagonist Aysel wants to commit suicide and is looking online for a partner to make sure she sticks to her plan—this book has a surprising sense of humor. Don’t get me wrong, it’s really sad and really painful, but like life, there are still laughs woven in there amongst all the darkness. It makes the book even more human and, as a result, even more moving.

The Distance Between Lost and Found, by Kathryn Holmes

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When I finished reading this one, I was astounded to learn that author Kathryn Holmes had never lived through an experience like this. It’s a lost-in-the-wilderness survival story and it plays out in this way that feels so true-to-life, with every tiny detail, every injury, every missed meal accounted for incredibly well. It has a wonderful emotional arc for main character Hallelujah, too, who struggles to gain her confidence back after a dude in her church youth group—who happens to be the preacher’s son—has spread awful lies about her. There are definitely some religious themes, which I thought might be off-putting, but they’re handled in thoughtful, interesting ways that add to the richness of the story. I guess what I’m saying is: maybe skip The Revenant and read this book instead. 

None of the Above, by I.W. Gregorio

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It’s an amazing thing when you finish reading a highly engaging piece of fiction and feel like you’ve genuinely learned something, too. This book expanded my mind and my empathy without ever feeling preachy. Popular high school senior Kristin learns early on in the novel that she’s intersex, meaning that, though she presents as a female, she also has male organs. Soon the whole school finds out, and suffice it to say, Kristin quickly becomes a lot less popular. The story is told in a grounded, believable way, with characters you truly care about, so it never for a moment feels didactic. That said, it does force you to examine your own thoughts about gender, to wonder what you would do if you discovered this about yourself or your partner, which is why I truly believe this book should be required reading for every human being.

The Honest Truth, by Dan Gemeinhart

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This book is sort of a MG cousin to The Distance Between Lost and Found—it’s the story of a young, terminally ill boy and his dog, making a trek up a mountain with the potentially limited time the boy has left–and it’s just as beautifully done. I cried a lot throughout this one and, even though I’m not a huge animal person, when I got to the last page, I thought, “Man, maybe I should get a dog,” which, trust me, says a lot about how terrific this book is. (It’s also worth mentioning that Dan’s second book, Some Kind of Courage, comes out today!)

Everything, Everything, by Nicola Yoon

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You can actually feel the love bursting off the pages of this book, which is a huge-hearted delight from cover to cover. It follows Maddy—a girl whose compromised immune system means she’s never been able to leave the house her whole life—and what happens when she starts crushing on the new boy who’s moved in next door. The tone is unique, and Yoon nails it—grounded yet playful, moving without ever being precious, and along with the text, the book is filled with emails, graphs, and brilliant drawings by David Yoon, who, yes, happens to be the author’s husband. (I’m telling you; the love oozes.) As if all that’s not enough, it’s unpredictable, too, always a step ahead of the reader. So, yeah, if you like love and surprises and joy, this one’s worth a look.

This summer you can see a musical I co-wrote!

I’m so damn thriled that Broadway Bounty Hunter is going to be happening at Barrington Stage Company this summer. It’s a musical I co-wrote with Joe Iconis and Jason SweetTooth Williams that stars Annie Golden (Hair, Assassins, Norma on Orange is the New Black) as a veteran musical theater actress who becomes a bounty hunter. Come to Massachusetts sometime between August 12th and September 4th and see it!

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Santa Claus’s Candid Thoughts on Popular Xmas Songs

Last week I was lucky enough to have an opportunity to sit down with Santa Claus and shoot the shit about some popular Christmas songs. He’s a super guy, and I’m still kinda in disbelief that I got to meet him. Here’s what he had to say:

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“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”

Undeniably cute, but so much of this one has been manufactured out of lies, which is just upsetting. One of my reindeer is named Rudolph, and yes, his nose does shine because of a skin condition. Other than that, though, this business about the other reindeer laughing and calling him names, about Rudolph guiding my sleigh, is pure bullshit. All the reindeer guide my sleigh. I don’t have favorites.

Jingle Bells”

There’s two kinds of songs I hate: songs about instruments and songs about weather. This one is both. ‘Nuff said.  

“I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”

Look, I’m not a perfect person, but if I were going to mess around while traveling for business, it definitely wouldn’t be with a woman who has kids. Not that I’m saying I would mess around with anyone–I love Deirdre, I love my children–but this song gets me a bit hot under the collar because these are such harmful, accusatory words. The idea of me–while on the clock—taking time to make out with a mom, in a spot where her kids could just walk downstairs and see us? Disgusting. I’ve talked with my lawyer at length about a libel lawsuit, but she says doing that would actually make me seem more guilty. Fuck it, you know? Sometimes you just can’t win.

Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer”

Easily one of my favorites. Hilarious concept, beautiful execution. (Oh, wow, no pun intended.) I happen to like dark humor, though, which I know isn’t for everyone. This is an example where the fact that it’s based on an incident that didn’t actually happen is what allows me to truly enjoy the song. If this had happened… Good God. I can’t even imagine. Might have had to find a new line of work.

“Santa Claus is Coming to Town (Bruce Springsteen version)”

I really want to like this version of the song, I do, but I can’t get past the feeling that Springsteen is mocking me and my whole thing. Give it another listen, you’ll hear it. There’s this smile in his voice. To which I say: Fuck You, Bruce. You’re a joke, and all your songs sound the same! [Santa takes a deep breath.] Sorry. Got a lot of demons as far as the Boss is concerned. High school girlfriend loved him, got me into his music, blah blah blah. Not worth going into here, but suffice it to say, very little of it is actually Springsteen’s fault. I don’t like his take on that song, though. And I never will.

“Jingle Bell Rock”

Someone needs to ask the people who wrote this song if they understand what rock music is. ‘Cause this ain’t it, kid.

“Santa is the Man”

I know you’re supposed to feed me song titles and I tell you what I think, but this is one I gotta bring up. Because it’s the tits, man. You want rock? This song is it. Seriously, get on Google, it’s a fucking great tune. It’s like, “Santa is the man, and he’s got a plan, and he’s super-strong, and he can get some serious shit done.” Something like that. I keep waiting for this one to really catch on. This could be the year.

“12 Days of Christmas”

Sweet song and all, but I find it exhausting. By the time we get to Seven Swans-A-Swimming, I’m like: This thing’s not done yet? Honestly, though, even just the title makes me feel tired, so maybe I’m a bad judge of this one.

“Frosty the Snowman”

Aw man, I was hoping you wouldn’t go there. [Santa takes a moment to collect himself.] This one, unfortunately, is an example of a song that is based on something all too true. Frosty was a close friend, and not a day goes by I don’t think about him. Time has helped. Those first years after his melting, I couldn’t hear this song without needing to take at least an hour to decompress in my man-cave. I think I’ve turned a corner, though. Hearing the song during last year’s holiday season, it actually made me smile. I can finally hear it for what it is: a very nice tribute to a very great man.

Huge thanks to Santa for taking the time to sit down with me. Happiest holidays, everyone!

Don’t Be Afraid to Smash the Glass

I wrote a piece for Cultured Vultures last week about my battles with perfectionism (or awesomeism) during the rewriting process. Here’s how it starts:

It always happens. As I transition into the rewriting that will not-so-magically transform a first draft of a novel into a second draft (or a second into a third; or a fifth into a sixth), I get timid. I get contemplative. I get, well… I get scared. It’s like I’m tiptoeing around a museum of precious artifacts, examining everything, but touching nothing.

You can read the rest of the piece here.

Hope you’re all having a lovely Holiday Week Monday! I know some people are at work today, but you’re not actually accomplishing anything, are you? (If so, I applaud you heartily.) 

The DENTON e-book is $1.99 for a limited time! (ALSO A CONTEST)

Guys! I am delighted to announce that the DENTON e-book is currently $1.99 in all places where e-books are sold! That is an incredibly reasonable price for something that will (hopefully) provide you with hours of funny, thought-provoking entertainment.

It’s a limited-time deal that I believe will last through December 6th most places and through November 17th on KOBO.

To make this deal even more exciting, though, here’s a CONTEST!

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This contest has two winners. Here is what those winners will win:

PRIZE #1: I will make you a personalized/signed deathdate cartoon drawing.

PRIZE #2: I will write you a personalized song on guitar. I will then film myself playing this song and put it on the internet. 

Here’s how to enter:

1. Buy the Denton Little’s Deathdate ebook for $1.99.

2. Take a picture of yourself holding an e-reader that features the DENTON cover page.

3. Post the picture on Twitter with this message “i bought DENTON for less than $2! that’s cheaper than [INSERT YOUR OWN THING HERE]! @lancerubinparty #DentonLittle” 

(Just to be clear, you should actually insert your own words at the end of the second sentence if you want your entry to count.)

4. You’ve entered the contest! Once the deal ends in December, I will randomly select two winners. And then I will contact you and let you know that you have won.

END CONTEST RULES.

Thanks, everybody! Spread da word!

Exclusive Never-Before-Revealed Secrets from the BACK TO THE FUTURE trilogy!

In celebration of October 21st, 2015—the future date to which Marty McFly traveled—here are some previously unshared secrets from the Back to the Future trilogy! 

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* It’s become common knowledge that Marty McFly was originally played by Eric Stoltz before the creative team realized he wasn’t the right fit. But not many people know that before that the role had been cast with none other than Andre the Giant. Director/co-screenwriter Robert Zemeckis had been impressed when he saw Andre hit Hulk Hogan with a ring-bell in a 1982 wrestling match. “He had the perfect charisma for Marty,” Zemeckis says. “But after shooting a couple days of footage, we realized it just didn’t work. It’s called Back to the Future,” he added, lightly chuckling, “not Back to the TALL.” 

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* In early drafts of the screenplay, co-screenwriters Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis had indicated the DeLorean would travel into time once it reached a speed of 33 mph. “33 was Patrick Ewing’s jersey number,” Gale says, “and it was very important to us to squeeze in that cool reference.” Universal Studios, however, had other ideas. “They told us it had to be faster,” Gale says. “Make it bigger! More explosions! Classic studio stuff.“ Gale and Zemeckis fought tooth and nail but ultimately lost that battle. “And you know what?” Gale says. “They were right. Now I hate the number three. And Patrick Ewing.”

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* Elsa Raven—who portrayed the Save the Clocktower Woman who shouts at Marty and Jennifer early in the movie—had a brief but powerful love affair with Christopher Lloyd. “I was only shooting for a day, and none of my scenes were with Chris,” Raven says. “But he happened to be hanging around the crafts services table, and we just clicked.” Within a few days, the relationship burned out, but both still look back on it fondly. “She was a very skilled lover,” Lloyd says. “Certainly don’t need a time machine to remember that.”

* Once, while being driven from the set of Family Ties to the set of BTTF, star Michael J. Fox realized the car was stocked, not with his preferred beverage, Diet Pepsi, but with 7Up. The driver apologized, explaining this was the beginning of his shift and the car had been like that when he picked it up. Fox said he understood but asked why the driver couldn’t have checked the beverages before leaving headquarters. The driver again apologized, saying he’d been running late so there wasn’t time for a beverage check. Fox said it wasn’t that big a deal, but he definitely didn’t drink any of the 7Up, instead staring out the window moodily for the rest of the ride. 

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* The shooting script for BTTF Part II featured some future inventions that ultimately didn’t make the cut, including something Zemeckis dreamed up called the DataGrid, which was very similar to what we now know as the internet. Gale had forced them to take it out because it was “too far-fetched.” “Yeah, he won’t let me forget that,” Gale says. “Like, seriously. He’ll just pound me with direct messages on Twitter: ‘Oh, look, Bob, I’m talking to you via the DataGrid. Not so far-fetched now, is it?’ ‘Hey Bob, how could someone ever imagine that information could be exchanged in such a ridiculous way as this?’ That sort of thing.” “I don’t want to be a dick about it,” Zemeckis says, “but it does get my goat. I mean, nobody knows that I thought up the internet, just with a much better name.”

* Though Huey Lewis and the News are now forever associated with BTTF, it didn’t seem like such a sure thing at first. “I’ll admit, when they approached me about writing a song, I was skeptical,” Lewis says. “I’m a music guy, you know? I write songs that play out of music things, like radios and stereos. A song that played out of a movie? At the time that seemed pretty dumb.” Zemeckis and Gale finally convinced Lewis by pointing out the songs he wrote for the movie could also play out of a radio or stereo. Lewis says it’s the best decision he ever made. “Now everybody’s playing music out of movies,” he says, “But we were there first.”

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* Right up until shooting, Marty’s last name was not McFly but TimeDude. “There was something so evocative about that,” Zemeckis says. “You have this teenager who ends up being a time traveler, but it’s actually been foreshadowed in his last name the whole time: Time Dude.” Lea Thompson, who portrayed Lorraine McFly, was the one responsible for the switch. “I said it made no sense that I would be called Lorraine TimeDude,” Thompson says. “Because my character didn’t travel through time. Also I’m not a dude.” Zemeckis and Gale realized their error. In a rush to come up with something else before shooting started, Gale looked down at their fast food lunch and said, “Um, I don’t know, how about McFry?” “Perfect!” Zemeckis said, though he had actually misheard it as McFly, which, of course, was what it went on to be. “I still think about that sometimes,” Gale says. “If it had been McFry, the movies might have been even more successful.”   

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Block Out The Noise and Make the Thing

Six months ago yesterday Denton was released into the world.

Six months ago today I had my first book launch ever, at Books of Wonder.

As always, I’m incredibly grateful for all the support and enthusiasm I’ve received over the past months from friends, readers, booksellers, librarians, fellow authors, bloggers, and festival people. (Has Festival People been the title of a horror movie yet?) (That was not a reflection on my specificfestival people, who were lovely and not horrific.) The book community is filled with kind, funny, passionate human beings, and it’s been perpetually disarming. Thank you.   

But on this particular day, I want to talk about what’s been going on behind the curtain. Because, on the internet, it’s easy for everyone’s lives to look shiny and happy and great, and I think it’s important to remember we’re all just people, hitting ups and downs, feeling anxious and inadequate, trying our best. 

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The release of my book, and the small tour that followed, was without a doubt a magical time. It was all so new. After years as a struggling actor, never coming close to doing anything even slightly resembling a promotional tour, it was surreal to be traveling around the country telling people about this thing I’d made, this tangible object I could hold in my hand.

When I found myself one May morning in a Kentucky high school library (whaddup, Oldham County!), watching students work on a writing exercise that I had assigned to them, I felt slightly out of body. By sitting in coffeeshops making up words on my computer, I’d somehow written myself to Kentucky, where random teenagers I’d never met were writing something down because I’d asked them to. (They rocked that exercise, btw. Those kids are awesome.)

The whole tour had that surreal quality, mainly in a positive way. But I was also anxious. I don’t even think I realized at the time just how anxious I was. Book events were completely uncharted territory. I wanted everything to go well. I wanted my book to do well. I wanted to seem like someone who knew what he was talking about. And I was missing my wife and then-14-month-old son. (My absence sent my wife Katie down an anxiety spiral of her own, which you should feel free to read about here.) 

My anxiety was camouflaged from me, though, thanks to both my book excitement and the necessity of staying on top of my life, focusing only on what was happening the next day, and not on the big picture of how I was feeling.  

When I got home from my last book tour event, I segued into final rewrites for the second Denton book, and once those were finished in late May…I suddenly had time to actually feel how I was feeling.

Which was: pretty lost. And very unnerved by that.

I got back to work on my third book. I struggled a lot.

I couldn’t focus on anything.

Every time writing got uncomfortable—which was approximately every 42.3 seconds—I went on the internet, hoping to find something, anything, that would make me feel like a capable person. Maybe someone new had tweeted about my book! Maybe someone new had blogged about my book! Maybe my book’s Amazon sales ranking had gone up!

(Quick note on that: brilliant feature, Amazon. This ranking—constantly changing throughout the day–was very obviously designed to exploit the weaknesses of neurotic, insecure authors. Nailed it!) 

Inevitably, I would not find that someone new had tweeted about my book but instead would learn of something amazing that had happened to some other author I follow. And yes, there is joy in others’ success, but not quite as much when you’re mid-anxiety-spiral.

In this June interview with the great Kurt Dinan, I compared the comedown after a book release to the comedown after one’s wedding. Or, really, any big event you look forward to for more than a year. I’d been thinking about the release of my debut novel since I’d sold it to Knopf almost eighteen months earlier. So once it happened, I realized I hadn’t thought much about what would happen afterward.

I mean, of course what I thought would happen is Denton would come out and instantly hit theNY Times Bestseller list. I guess rationally I knew that wouldn’t happen. But I still hoped it would.

Spoiler alert: my book has definitely not hit the NY Times bestseller list.

In fact, my book isn’t selling as well as my publishing house hoped it would. (I know this because I had a phone call with my editor and agent last week, where I learned that my book isn’t selling as well as they hoped it would.)

As a result, the second Denton book—which had a cool cover all set to go—is now getting a totally redesigned cover and possibly a title change.

Meanwhile, Denton Little’s Deathdate will get a new cover for the paperback release, and the overall marketing/publicity approach for both books will be reassessed. 

Meaning: the second Denton book will NOT be coming out in April 2016, as planned. There’s no new release date set but it’s looking like it’ll be Spring 2017.

Meaning: I am bummed. Even though I get why it’s happening and I’m glad Knopf cares about the books enough to reboot their design, I am still bummed. 

Meaning also: I will have lots of time to write really cool bonus Denton material to help the wait feel less long. Huzzah!

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This is all very standard stuff that happens when a book doesn’t reach selling expectations (as most don’t) but that doesn’t mean it feels fantastic. I can’t help but hear a voice in my head, always whispering:

You haven’t done enough.

I perpetually feel like that, like there’s more creative marketing I can be doing, more writing, more tweeting, more reaching out to other authors, more everything. Unfortunately, when I feel like that, I freeze. Seriously. I am someone with A LOT of creative resistance. When my wife gets anxious, it drives her to do things, do things, do things. I am the exact opposite of that. That’s why I didn’t write any legitimate posts on here for months after the book came out. Yes, I was busy with events, with writing my second and third books, but not that busy. I was mostly frozen.

Which I guess means I need to “Let it Go.”

(I’m sorry. You and I both know I couldn’t not say that.)

Would my blog posts and tweets have made the difference between the book selling well and not selling well? No, probably not. There’s a billion factors at play here, most of them out of my control.

But some of them are in my control. And so I’m doing my damndest to unfreeze myself. My anxiety has dissipated considerably, and here’s what’s helped the most:

Blocking out the noise and making the thing.

In July, I finally got back into a writing groove with my third book. It wasn’t easy and it was often messy, but I’ve created a huge chunk of the thing.

And my most productive days always start and end with blocking out the noise. Look, I know everyone has their own unique relationship to social media, but for me, Twitter and Facebook and Instagram can be wonderful in a couple of ways–like allowing you to connect with other humans when in reality you’re alone in a coffeeshop—but they do very little for my creative flow. Often they just remind me of all the book festivals I’m not at, of all the awards I’m not winning, of all the NYTimes bestseller lists I’m not on.

Which is why the biggest lesson I’ve taken from the past six months, which I am trying desperately to internalize more and more is:

Block out the noise and make the thing.

I’ve already decided that the next book tour I go on—which will, let’s face it, probably be in 2017–I am not going to drop my writing practice. I am going to enjoy the events, enjoy the people I meet, but I am also going to find time whenever I can to block out that noise and make the thing.

Because, at the end of the day, the creative act is THE THING that’s going to make you feel like you’re doing the work and earning the right to call yourself an artist. 

Weirdly enough, having that phone conversation last week with my editor and agent is helping me to thaw my freeze even more. It’s motivating me to write this thing you’re reading now. It’s motivating me to feel scrappy, to feel empowered, to feel all the ways I felt when I wrote my first book. Not coincidentally, that first book was written from a place of darkness; I’d just been dropped by my acting agent and manager and was feeling totally lost in the woods. I want to believe I won’t always have to rely on the fuel of failure to really get me going, but if I do, so be it.

If there’s any other wisdom I can impart from my first six months as a published author–other than telling anyone dealing with anxiety to read this, which was and continues to be very helpful–it’s that any career as an artist is not going to be a straightforward ride. One day you’re up, another you’re down, but if you keep your mind on the creating, maybe you won’t get jostled by the bumps as much.  

Really, I’m just grateful to be on the ride at all.

And with that said, please excuse me. It’s time to block out the noise and make another thing.