In my personal life, it was a year of upheaval and complexity, but ultimately one of great joy.
My family moved from my beloved Brooklyn to the swamps of Jersey, which has been an adjustment for yours truly. I grew up shuttled between the suburbs and farm country, never feeling at home in either place. When I went to college in a city, it was the first time in my life I felt like I belonged somewhere. For reasons that no longer matter, after college I ended up back in the suburbs for a very long time. It wasn’t until about ten years ago that I finally made it to the city again. And I loved it.
I miss it now, but the joy of watching my daughter spread her wings in a nice big house helps a lot. (Plus, I have a home office. Bliss!)
Oh, yeah, speaking of my kid: My wife and I are expecting our second shortly after New Year’s. Which probably means this should be in next year’s Year in Review, but most of the pregnancy was in 2016, so there.
The Secret Sea
And then, it just sat there.
Look, not every novel can be a slam-bang home run, but The Secret Sea was the culmination not only of years of work, but also a personal dream. It was exactly the kind of book I’d wanted to write since I was a kid. Everyone I showed it to loved it, and I thought the world would love it, too.
Sales were…there. As of this writing, it has exactly one review on Amazon. It’s been almost six months. I’ve never had a book go so long with just one review.
Why didn’t the book take off? Why didn’t people find it? I have no idea. If I were cynical, I would think it’s because the main character and his best friend are both people of color. But truthfully, I don’t think people even made it far enough along to learn that.
I am enormously proud of The Secret Sea. I think it’s some of my very best writing — earnest and heartfelt and cruelly honest in the way only middle grade fiction can be. But the world skipped it over. Ah, well.
The Book that Will Kill Me/Mystery Trilogy
Some good news, though, professionally. As 2016 limps bloodied and broken to the finish line, I received news about a couple of projects for 2017 that I’m really excited about.
First of all, I have finally found a publisher for The Book that Will Kill Me! I can’t say anything more until I actually have the contract in hand, but rest assured that once I do, I will tell you all about it.
Second of all, I’m waiting for the final approval for a trilogy that I am beyond thrilled to write. It’s sort of a lifelong dream project, so I’ll be shouting all about it once I get the all-clear.
Better yet, there are a couple of other possible projects flitting around in the wings. I’ll update you as/if they happen.
I had a lot of fun traveling this year. I attended my first-ever anime convention as a Literary Guest of Honor, visited the folks in Youngstown, Ohio and spoke at a couple of their libraries, and spent a day at the Tweens Read book festival in Houston. I also spent some time in upstate New York at Northshire Books and made several appearances in the New York area. As my family grows, I find I travel less and less, but I appreciate it more and more.
Perhaps the biggest news of 2016 for me, though, was not merely the announcement of my new YA novel, Bang, but also its inclusion at EW.com! The site ran a cover reveal and excerpt from the book. (If you haven’t read it yet, try it out.) Bang comes your way in April 2017. I can’t wait for you to see it!
2016 didn’t manage to kill me. Bring on 2017!