A deleted scene from DENTON. Don’t judge too hard.

Last week during the YA Scavenger Hunt, I hid a deleted scene from the very first draft of my debut novel Denton Little’s Deathdate. If you didn’t take the time to hunt and find it, well, you’re in luck! Because I’m about to post it RIGHT HERE.

If you haven’t read my novel yet, you can still read this scene and it won’t spoil that much. This excerpt is the first chunk of what was, like, a fifteen-page dream sequence. I’m ashamed to say I’m not even exaggerating. In the final version of the book, a dream sequence still exists, but it’s only a couple pages long. Which is a good thing. Because here’s something I learned while writing this book: Most dream sequences are pretty boring. Nobody cares about the dreams of real people, let alone fictional ones.

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a short meditation on birthdays

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Today is my birthday. I tell you this not so that you’ll shower me with internet love—though feel free—but because it seems like a nice moment to share why I love birthdays.

Some people hate birthdays. Usually those people are older than thirty. (I’ve never met any kids who hate birthdays. That would be kind of unsettling. But also really impressive.) Those older people say things like, “Let’s pretend it’s not my birthday! I’ll be twenty-nine for the rest of my life!” But really, I think most of those people probably like having birthdays. They just hate aging. It scares them. I get that. It scares me, too. I turn thirty-four today, and I feel twenty-seven, tops. Sometimes I’ll be reading an article in the newspaper, and they’ll refer to someone being thirty-five and I’ll picture some really adult-looking man with a beard. And then I realize I’m almost thirty-five. And then I feel like an idiot.

But, seriously, if the twenty-two-year-old fresh-out-of-college me met me right now, he’d be like, “Whoa, that dude is married?!? With a kid?!? He’s so old. I mean, he’s really cool, but he’s so old.” Then he’d go to someone’s rooftop and get high. But that’s neither here nor there.  

Because, even though I’m perpetually surprised by my age, I do not hate birthdays. I love them. And that love isn’t about a big celebration or tons of presents or the parade of “Happy birthday”s on my FB feed or even the attention. What I truly love is walking around with that feeling that it’s my special day. That’s a ridiculous phrase for a thirty-four-year-old to write, but I can’t think of a better way to put it. It’s my goddamned special day, and I love that.

Right now, for example, I’m sitting in a Starbucks writing this, and nobody knows it’s my birthday. But I know. I’m having a rare one in three-hundred-sixty-five experience, and nobody around me has any idea. Not this older dude in a plaid jacket who’s placed his “You Won’t Be Disappointed If You Will Let Jesus Christ Become the Lord of Your Life” flyers right next to my computer. Not the slightly-less-older dude watching something on his iphone across from me. They don’t know they are sitting at a table with The Motherfuckin’ Birthday Boy. Part of me thinks it’s a tiny taste of what it might be like to be a superhero: Something special is happening to me right now and none of you have any idea. You fools.

But okay, here’s why I really love birthdays: we all have them. Nobody doesn’t have a birthday. It’s perhaps the most equal-opportunity experience we humans share at different times. Everybody was born. Thus, everyone has a birthday. So, unlike the experience of, say, getting a piece of good news, you don’t have to feel like your secret is going to make people feel jealous or bad about themselves. Because again, we all have birthdays! It’s beautiful!

I mean, maybe someone with a winter birthday might be jealous of someone with a summer birthday. But other than that.  

And look, I know some people might get Ringwalded on their birthday and not heralded as much as they deserve to be. But, hopefully, in spite of that, they still have a bit of the feeling. Because it’s their goddamned special day.  

So now you know. I love birthdays. And with that, I’m going to take my really-adult-looking-thirty-four-year-old man-with-a-sometimes-beard-self and walk the street, emitting that birthday glow that only I can see.

Fall YA Scavenger Hunt!

All right, guys, so this is exciting and different: this post is actually a leg of the YA Scavenger Hunt. BA-BOOM.

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This is a bi-annual event first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors…and also a chance to win some awesome prizes. Sweeeeeet.

For those that don’t know me, I’m Lance Rubin!  I love Back to the Future, Harry Potter, Pixar, and the New York Knicks, and I wrote a dark comedic novel called Denton Little’s Deathdate that came out in April. In this hunt, you can find a DELETED SCENE from the very first draft of my book. But you’ll have to keep hunting to find that. Here, I’m honored to be hosting the exclusive content of another superawesomeauthor. We’ll get to that in a bit.

There are 8 teams in this YA Scavenger Hunt, so it’s VERY IMPORTANT that you know I am on Team Teal. DOUBLE BA-BOOM.

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Yeah, that’s me. Third from the left. Holding up part of the A.

Right now YOU are hunting on Team Teal, and if you enter the contest for our team, you could win a signed copy of my book along with signed copies of the books of the other nineteen Teal authors. (Keep in mind, you can enter the contest for ALL EIGHT TEAMS in the hunt, meaning you could potentially win 160 signed books. Yowsa! That’s a lotta books! And a lotta signatures, too.)

How do you enter this contest? Good question! This is my first time being a part of this, so I’m probably gonna mess something up as I try to explain. Go check out all the rules and see all the authors and prizes involved here.

But the basic gist is, you need to collect the secret number (not actually so secret; you can find mine below, big and obvious) from each author on Team Teal and add up those numbers to get the code. And THEN you can enter the contest here to qualify for the grand prize (BOOKS)!

But keep in mind: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for 72 hours, through Sunday, October 4th at noon PST.

Here’s the Official Rules (BORING!): Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. (I’M STICKING MY SECRET NUMBER IN THE MIDDLE OF THE RULES TO JAZZ ‘EM UP A BIT: 57 MY SECRET NUMBER IS 57)  To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by Sunday, October 4th, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.

Okay, glad that’s all explained. Now onto the real bounty of this hunt: Today I have the great privilege of hosting GWENDA BOND!

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Gwenda Bond is the author of the young adult novels Lois Lane: Fallout and Girl on a Wire, among others. Next up are Lois Lane: Double Down and Girl in the Shadows, a new novel of the Cirque American, in 2016. She has also written for Publishers Weekly, the Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post, among other publications. She has an MFA in Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts, and lives in a hundred-year-old house in Lexington, Kentucky, with her husband, author Christopher Rowe, and their menagerie. Visit her online at www.gwendabond.com or @gwenda on twitter.

During this hunt, Gwenda is showcasing her novel Lois Lane: Fallout. (Meaning you can win the below book in the contest. NICE.)

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Lois Lane is starting a new life in Metropolis. An Army brat, Lois has lived all over—and seen all kinds of things. (Some of them defy explanation, like the near-disaster she witnessed in Kansas in the middle of one night.) But now her family is putting down roots in the big city, and Lois is determined to fit in. Stay quiet. Fly straight.

A cool, new take on Lois Lane. Awesome. You can buy Lois Lane: Fallout here. 

But just as exciting is the UPCOMING SEQUEL, Lois Lane: Double Down, out May 2016. Here’s what it’s gonna look like:

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Love this cover. And now some words from Gwenda:

I know it’s a long wait until May 1, 2016, so I thought I’d give you guys a sneak peek from the very early advanced reader copies of the sequel to Fallout. This will be the second book in the Lois Lane series and it’s called Double Down. I couldn’t decide what to pick, but then I figured when in doubt go with a Lois and SmallvilleGuy scene. This is a snippet from their first meeting in the Worlds War Three real-sim game in Double Down, and was a fun moment to write for reasons you will see. It’ll also give you a major hint of some of the trouble these two will be encountering, apart from the mystery Lois and her Scoop colleagues will be attempting to solve this time around.

Hope you enjoy it! *twirls fingers evilly* 

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Flying! Mercenaries! Laser-bats! Ah, so cool.

You can go ahead and order THAT BOOK right here. And buy the rest of Gwenda’s books while you’re at it.

And don’t forget to enter the contest to win books by me, Gwenda Bond, and eighteen other fantastic authors. Add up all the SECRET NUMBERS from Team Teal and use that secret code to enter.

ALSO: During this Scavenger Hunt, I’m using my first ever Rafflecopter to run a separate give-away. Someone will win a signed hardcover of Denton Little’s Deathdate, and someone will win a signed audiobook and someone will win a personalized cartoon drawing by me just for them.  Three winners! Woo! Open internationally! Enter by using the Rafflecopter link below and answer the question in my comments section. 

Now head onto the next #YASH stop: JENNIFER JENKINS. Thanks, guys!

Here’s the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Hi.

I haven’t really written on here since my book came out in April, so I feel like I need to write something really awesome on here now.

But whenever I feel like I need to write something awesome, it freezes me, and I write nothing. Which is what’s been happening for weeks.

So instead I’m going to say that all the Denton events of the past two months have been wonderful, and I truly appreciate all the lovely people I’ve met: librarians, booksellers, authors, festival volunteers, and, of course, readers. So many awesome readers. Thanks to all of you. For buying the book, for reading the book, for taking the time to email or tweet at me. I can’t tell you how much all of that means. (I seriously can’t tell you. I’m not allowed. It’s in my contract.) 

More things on here soon that are more fun than this sincere thank you. In the spirit of that future fun, I leave you with this photo I took of a real place.

Some March things

Oh boy! I had a good streak going of posting on here every Tuesday, but then life got busier and my streak passed out in a field somewhere. Please forgive me.

In any case, here are some March things:

This week, thanks to the amazing Rhinebeck Writers Retreat, Annie Golden: Bounty Hunter, Yo!–the musical that I’ve been writing the past few years with Joe Iconis and Jason SweetTooth Williams–is having its first-ever workshop. With real actors and everything! Watching this thing come to life has been really magical. The cast, led by the wonderful Annie Golden, is terrific, as is director Leah Gardiner and the rest of the creative team. It’s culminating in a private reading Saturday, and hopefully the show will move onto some more public venues in the not-so-distant future. 

My wife Katie Schorr started a funny, self-deprecating blog about being a mother. I’m obviously biased, but I highly recommend it. Even if you’re not a mom.

I read one of my favorite chapters of DENTON on The Catapult this week. This podcast is hosted by Jaime Green, who is an awesome person and writer.  She was my first theater friend in college, and we took Sarah Ruhl’s playwriting class together freshman year (I think that’s true, right, Jaime? Did I just make that up?), and then later she was in a musical I co-wrote and directed. So it was very fun to reconnect to do this.

DENTON comes out in the UK on Thursday from Simon and Schuster! Very exciting. I had a good time doing a Quick Fire Q and A with them last week. If you’ve been dying to know which I prefer, DVD or Cinema, then you gotta read this RIGHT AWAY. 

I think that’s it for the moment. Hope you’re all having a wonderful March day. Soon the weather will be warm and everything will be even wonderful-er. Any day now. Really.

February stuff

Hi hi hi! I’ve been in the midst of busyness, but I wanted to pop on to say a few things. 

1. I was the keynote speaker last week at Random House Children’s Summer 2015 Preview. Beforehand, I was really nervous. Afterward, I was like 

(I realize this photo of me in front of two other me’s is kind of intense, but I’m posting it anyway. I apologize.)

I talked about loving books so much as a kid that I slept with them, starting to write Denton because my acting career was making me miserable, the power of laughter, and using books to build empathy and battle our phone-cultivated short attention spans.

Random House awesomely supplied me with candy to throw into the audience at the end of my speech, much like Denton does at the end of his self-eulogy. But I forgot about it in the moment. My b, Random House. Thanks for the cool thought.

I met lots of lovely librarians and teachers and bloggers. And also some lovely RH folk I hadn’t met yet. Thanks for being so kind, everybody! Looking forward to crossing paths again soon.

Here’s a photo from that day of Denton’s fantastic editor Nancy Siscoe and me.

 2. Denton is on the Indie Next List. Such a nice honor to be a recommendation of independent bookstores, which are wonderful, magical places. 

3. I think the NPH Oscars backlash was a little over-the-top. Obviously NPH is gonna be just fine, but the internet has become an overwhelming and critical beast. I know choosing to infuse the internet with love instead of snark is probably less fun, but it’d be great to live in a world where that was happening more.   

That’s all for today. I now return to the anxiety-provoking world of rewriting my second book in time for a very-soon deadline. Happy Thursday!

A Message to the Gatekeepers

elloellenoh:

I write kids books. I love kids books. There’s no doubt to me how important children’s literature is to the growth and development of our future generation of global citizens. The importance of diversity in children’s literature is simple and based on two important reasons – 1. we need to provide…

I am so on-board the We Need Diverse Books movement, the importance of which Ellen Oh powerfully sums up here.  

My heart.

beckyalbertalli:

I can’t believe I can finally say this: I’m flying to Cincinnati tomorrow to celebrate the launch of one of my all-time favorite books.
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I’ve never read a book quite like MY HEART AND OTHER BLACK HOLES, but I’ve known kids like Aysel – kids who feel confused and alone, kids grappling with…

I love this book by Jasmine Warga. It’s lovely, sad, smart, funny,
honest, and moving. And it comes out TOMORROW. Becky Albertalli has
beautifully articulated here why it’s such a meaningful read. 

Books my now-one-year-old son loved this year.

My son Sly had his first birthday on Sunday. Since one of the cool parts about this year has been rediscovering the wonder-filled worldof children’s books, I’ve composed a list, in no specific order, of The Books Sly Has Most Enjoyed This Year.

Knuffle Bunny, by Mo Willems

A toddler named Trixie, her daddy, and her best stuffed friend Knuffle (pronounced Kah-Nuffle!) Bunny take an ill-fated trip to the laundromat in this book, which was the first one that Sly had visceral responses to, likely because of the simple yet profound story and captivating cartoon/photo illustrations. There was a week when, every time we got to the page where Trixie bawls (“WAAAA!”), Sly would open his mouth and make a bawling noise with her. 

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It was delightful. But then, like so many things in a baby’s always-changing, constantly-ephemeral first year, he stopped doing it a week later, and my fun party trick was ruined.

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild, by Peter Brown

After Knuffle Bunny, this was the next book to get a primal response out of Sly. He would screech along with Mr. Tiger’s first ROAR!

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This book has amazing art that pops off the page, and as my wife Katie astutely pointed out, “This is the same story as Transparent.

My Favorite Thing, by Gyo Fujikawa

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Our copy of this very sweet book, which is simultaneously lively and poignant, is actually Katie’s from when she was a kid, so she’s starred all the pages that have her favorite things on them (being in a snuggly bed during winter got a star; going camping did not). Sly’s personal favorite is the adorable two-page spread of a dozen unsupervised babies at the seashore.

B is for Brooklyn, by Selina Alko

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We have read this book at least a hundred times, and we’re still discovering new details in Selina Alko’s unique, wonderful renderings of all things Brooklyn, which often include random found materials, like newspaper clippings and ticket stubs. Since Katie and I have lived in four different Brooklyn neighborhoods together, reading it also becomes this weirdly touching nostalgia trip.

Pat the Bunny, by Dorothy Kunhardt

Though it’s been so much fun to see Sly learn to interact with this undeniable classic more and more over the months, I find this to be the most problematic of this list, for two reasons:

1. There’s a subtle, slow-building undercurrent of creepy that runs through the whole thing, and not just because Paul and Judy are vaguely unsettling characters. Patting the bunny? Okay, that’s cute, I guess. Playing peek-a-boo with Paul? All right, sure, why not? Sticking your finger through Mummy’s ring? Um, nope. Shaking Mummy’s button box? I am officially uncomfortable.

2. There’s this one page where you’re supposed to smell the flowers, and it gives off this potent, nausea-inducing fragrance that is highly upsetting.

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I feel like having a smell in a book was really cutting-edge when this came out in 1940, but no one’s bothered to update the smell since then. They should. It’s the worst.

Corduroy, by Don Freeman

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Here’s a classic that holds up a little better. Sly loves Corduroy’s touching journey to find his lost button, especially the part where Corduroy rips a button off a mattress. One small gripe: I feel like Corduroy isn’t always operating at the top of his intelligence, especially when he gets on an escalator and is like, “Is this a mountain?” You live in a department store, Corduroy. Are you seriously telling me you and the other toys haven’t discussed very basic details of what the other parts of the store are like beyond your little shelf? But maybe they haven’t. Gotta give Corduroy the benefit of the doubt on this one, I guess.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, by Judith Viorst; illustrations by Ray Cruz

And to complete the Classic Trifecta, this one’s still awesome, too. What’s not to like about a book where the message is, “Some days suck, from morning to night, and that’s just what it is”? I love it so much. And Sly freaks the hell out about the illustrations in here; something about the scratchy black and white art makes him want to shout random noises.

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My Very Own Name, by Maia Haag; illustrations by Mark Mille

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This is one of those personalized books, where all the animals in the forest, under the firm leadership of the Owl, come together to spell Sly’s name (which, since his full name is Sylvester, means those animals got a lot of work to do). Sly loves this book, and I don’t blame him; all humans love seeing their name in print. It’s a fact.

Fortunately, by Remy Charlip

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This was a book I loved growing up, and I still love it now. The protagonist Ned gets invited to a party. Unfortunately, it’s in Florida and he’s in New York. Fortunately, his friend loans him a plane. Unfortunately, the plane explodes. (That is a real thing that happens in this book. Terrifying). You get the idea. It’s funny and dark and clever and captures, in a very simple way, the surprising and unpredictable nature of life. Unfortunately, Sly usually likes us to read this one many times in a row.

We Are in a Book! by Mo Willems

I’m starting and ending this list with a book by Mo Willems because I had never heard of him before Sly came into our lives, and now I think he’s a goddamned genius. Seriously, the man is prolific. As if all three Knuffle Bunny books aren’t impressive enough, we learned he’s also written this fantastic series of Elephant and Piggie books (not to mention a beloved series of Pigeon books we haven’t delved into yet), which are hilarious, sweet, and full of great lessons. This one, a meta- joy where Elephant and Piggie become aware they’re in a book, is Sly’s favorite. There’s a moment where they start cracking up because they’ve made the reader say “banana," 

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and one day Sly started doing this fake-laugh along with them, a disingenuous "Ah ah” sound.  It was easily one of my favorite moments of the year. As Katie said, “What a good audience member he will be at his friends’ Level 1 improv shows.”

Thank you to the various people who gifted us books on this list. And to the people who gifted us books not on this list! I assure you your books have been in the rotation, too, just couldn’t feature them all here. 

And if anyone has suggestions of kids’ books they absolutely love, especially those by diverse authors, please let me know! We’re always looking for new favorites.