Friday, March 28, 2008

Fan Mail of the Year

I don't usually do this (in fact, never have), but I had to share an email I received from a new fan. It's just kinda cool. Enjoy:

I recently bought The 13th Reality: The Journal of Curious Letters at Barnes and Noble. In fact it was only last night (Tuesday, March 26th). The first thing that attracted me to your book is that I caught the number 13 looking out at me from a distance. It may interest you to know that: A) my lucky number is Thirteen B) I am currently 13 years old and C) I was born on Friday, January 13th 1995. So, you may well see that the number thirteen has been and is currently a big part in my life.

As I moved closer to the curious book with the large 13 on the front I read the next thing that stood out to me. A sticker, saying, "From the publisher of Fableheaven and Leven Thumps." Now, I have read the Leven Thumps series and have liked it quite well. So, I thought, why not look at it and see? I read the inside flap with a short summary of the book (the one that asks you all the questions you know?) and almost dropped it. You see the letters M and G are my initials. Right after that I was like OMG! I have to buy this book!!!!!! Besides it sounds really good too!!! Thirteen and the letters M and G, it was a sign!

I am very pleased with what I have read so far except one little thing, you made M.G. a boy. (JUST KIDDING!!!) Yup, you probably guessed it, I'm a girl. A pretty smart one at that, if I may say so myself. (And I read too much for my own good. Everyone, including my parents will tell you that I need to get a life!) I will probably finish your book sometime tomorrow (I'm halfway through it!) and I absolutely LOVE the story!! It's soooooo cool! If you don't mind responding to this e-mail could you? I will be greatly pleased if you would. (Hopefully,)Talk to you soon!


Thanks, MG. That was a lot of fun to read, and I hope you like the rest of the book. And it's really cool to call you MG. See ya, MG.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Few Quick Things

1. Hi, how are you doing?

2. The 13th Reality has received a lot of good reviews in the bloggy world, which we've been thrilled about. But one this week just really struck me as well written and very perceptive of what I tried to accomplish in the book, without giving things away. Plus, the reviewer loved it! Her name is Tia (I think) and she runs a blog called Fantasy Debut. I just discovered it and it's awesome - she basically reviews any major release in that genre. Please go check it out: CLICK HERE.

3. This is really cool: my book was #8 in the Deseret Book store chain the last couple of weeks, so for the next two weeks I'll be prominently displayed in the bestseller section in all of their stores. Hopefully that'll just create a snowball effect from the extra exposure. I think they have about 50 stores, so that's great news. Thanks, DB!

4. Have I mentioned lately how much I love Borders Bookstores? I can't wait to see the effect of all the things they are doing for me nationwide in April. I hope it doesn't tank for them. If you're new to the Dashner Dude, they are doing THREE major things about The 13th Reality. I'll be in their Original Voices section, they ordered 20,000 teaser chapter booklets for their teacher education packets, and there will be a story on me in their newsletter.

I'm not saying this to brag. I'm saying this because I feel strongly I should thank them for their support as often as I can. Borders, you truly ROCK!!!!!!

5. Can I just tell you that I love Led Zeppelin? Ever since I got my iPod, I've been rediscovering them over and over. Not that I ever abandoned them, but carrying around CDs was about the stupidest thing on the planet. How did people live in the album days? Anyway, I'd just like to reiterate to the world that LZ is the best band ever.

I hereby declare that when my book is made into a movie, I will insist that Kashmir plays during the credits. Hollywood, take note. I won't budge on this. Well, unless you pay me a lot of money.

6. Do you realize I haven't seen a movie in over a month? This is the most frightening thing that's ever happened to me. I feel empty inside. How can I be so busy that I haven't taken 2 hours to go see a movie? This is shameful. Note to wife: please "make" me go to the movies this weekend. Anyone have suggestions?

Movies are a HUGE part of my creative process. When I write, my ideas form very visually in my mind, often inspired by recent trips to the theater or DVD player. Next to reading, movies affect my writing more than anything else, and it's a very close second.

7. Spring is here. And it's awesome. I'm a big winter guy, but even I was getting tired of this long, cold, snowy winter in Utah. It's so stinkin nice outside!

8. Have a nice day. You really look great today. Did you lose some weight?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Doug Wright, Borders, and the Storymakers Conference

I think the Internet let out a sigh of relief with me shutting my yapper the last few days. I want to report on a few things - it's been an awesome weekend.

Thing #1: Earlier today I did an interview with Doug Wright of KSL in Salt Lake City. Now, anyone who lives in Utah will know who Doug is, and I was more than honored and excited to have the opportunity. This guy's a stud, okay? He does a daily show in the mornings on the radio, and a prerecorded weekly show on Sundays. He talks about everything on the planet, but my personal favorite is his movie show on Fridays. I love movies, and I usually agree with him.

Anyway, you'll be able to hear the interview this Sunday at 9:00 am MST. If you don't get KSL, you can listen to it on I think you have to hear it live to catch it. Anyway, I really enjoyed talking to him - like I said, he's a stud. And I hope he's okay with me calling him a stud, since I've done it twice.

My favorite part: when the interview was over, he had me sign his book and then we talked about movies for awhile. We both shared our matching opinions on movies like No Country for Old Men and actors like Daniel Day Lewis, but then came the scary part.

Doug said, "Okay, now the acid test. Who did the greatest job of portraying Doc Holladay in the movies?"

I paused, thinking through it to make sure it wasn't a trick question. Then I answered: "Val Kilmer in Tombstone."

I passed the test! I told him (read: begged him) to let me come on as a guest movie reviewer when I'm rich and famous. Yeah, I'm sure he'll be calling me any day now.

Thing #2: I've already told you guys about how I will be an Original Voices selection in the Borders bookstores in April. As if that weren't cool enough, they are now doing a piece on me in their newsletter, and asked me to write a letter to Borders Customers. I've done so, and I can't wait to see it in the real thing. How cool is Borders, huh? (Pretty much really cool.) I sure hope it works and my book makes them a lot of money. Borders, I love you.

Thing #3: This past weekend was the 5th annual Storymakers Conference. It was so incredible I don't know where or how to begin. In fact, I won't even try. Seriously, I can't do it justice. This conference has grown from a tiny one-day workshop with 20 or 30 people to a major two-day event with almost 200 attendees. Not to mention the first Whitney Awards, which could not have possibly gone any better.

Even though I saw a lot of old friends, met a lot of new friends, and mingled with everyone from a senior editor at Putnam to agents to some big name authors, I will only mention four people, because they deserve it.

First, Heather (H.B.) Moore and Annette Lyon for being the "Conference Queens" and planning everything and overseeing the committee. Unbelievable. I can honestly say I've never attended anything so well run and professional. And the WORK these guys did. Great job.

Second, Julie Wright (and her family) for running the bookstore. Talk about a lot of work and headaches. Awesome.

Finally, Robison Wells, the president of the Whitney Awards committee. This dude worked his tail off, as did the entire committee. But Rob held it together and made it happen. And I think he may have started something that will last a very long time. Congrats.

I'd go into more details, but I don't know where to begin. It was awesome. If you missed it, try to come next year. You won't be disappointed.

Thing #4: Just for fun, if you attended the conference and read this, please leave a comment. Let us know what you thought, maybe what your favorite part was. I'm really interested to know how many of you faithful readers of my blog came to the conference.

And last but not least, Easter was yesterday and I had a great time with my family. You haven't lived until you've seen my 3-year-old daughter Kayla try to get an easter egg out of a tree.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

More TKE and random stuff

I was very honored and pleased by new Dashner Dude Favorite Jenn Northington's writeup on our event at The King's English. Check it out: CLICK HERE.

By the way, I forgot to mention that Trent Nelson from the SL Tribune (Chief Photographer) was there with his family, too. He's my new pal and his boys are awesome.

You can read my account in the post before this one.

I'll be sure to report on the Storymaker's Conference this weekend.

I'm still trying to recover from my beloved Georgia Bulldogs blowing their lead against Xavier today. Here's a heads up for all you budding basketball players: don't try to dribble through a frickin' double team!!!!!!!

For you American Idol watchers: when did Elliott Yamine turn into the Wolfman? Nah, that was a sweet story. The 13th Reality Charity Drive money will be going to the same charity group behind American Idol Gives Back, which is just amazingly awesome in case you're wondering. Whether you love the show or hate it.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Good Times at TKE

Well, all of you living within 300 miles of Salt Lake City who decided not to come last night, you missed out. We had a great time at The King's English, and I feel like I've officially arrived having been a guest at their awesome bookstore.

The crowd was exactly as I'd hoped - big enough to have fun but small enough to have fun. A super duper Dashner Dude thanks to Jenn Northington of TKE for setting it all up and treating me so well. We're pretty much buds now and I look forward to more events in her store.

By the way, TKE is hosting an exclusive party for the launch of Stephenie Meyer's new book, THE HOST, when it comes out. Stephenie will be there, which is one of an extremely limited number of events she'll be doing. Yeah, that's right. Me and Stephenie Meyer, same store. I think she'll have more people. In fact, they're doing it at a high school. Some day for me!

Anyway, last night was really fun. I did my very first offical reading of THE 13TH REALITY, doing the first chapter. I tried my best to perform a British accent for MG, but failed miserably. Still, the kids in the audience seemed pretty enraptured if I do say so myself. Although it would've been way cooler if Mark Wright could've done it (did the audio version of my book).

A lot of the people there were friends and family, which was nice. But I also got to meet some cool kids, like Kailee and Kiley and Noah and Nathaniel and Ian and okay, I better stop because I'm gonna leave someone out. My cuz Kristie was even there! And Don came all the way from Texas! Well, kind of not really.

My good author friends Sara Zarr (STORY OF A GIRL) and Jessica Day George (DRAGON SLIPPERS) came (check out their blogs now!), which made me feel all special. Angie Wager (my longtime supporter and friend) was there, too, and might never forgive me for outing her as a Barnes and Noble employee within the walls of an independent bookstore. Jessica's agent, Amy Jameson, also came - she's way cool.

You may be asking yourself, why is James giving us a list of the people at his signing? The answer would be: no particular reason. Shut it.

Oh, and my awesome editor and her husband came (Lisa and Tracy Mangum) and brought me cookies! Such nice, if a little strange, people they are (hello, that's a compliment). Tracy took some pictures and posted them on my sis's Flickr site for The 13th Reality if you'd like to see: CLICK HERE. You should also check out Tracy's blog. Great stuff on there.

Hmm, what else? I ate at this sweet Italian cafe before the signing called Fresco's. Very, very good, and I'll be returning with the missus for sure.

Okay, I think that's just about enough on that. Even I'm bored now.

This weekend is the Storymaker's Conference in Sandy, UT. It's gonna be awesome as usual - it sold out of spots well over a month ago. Yours truly will be participating in 3 different workshop sessions, one of which will be with the utterly terrible and ugly J. Scott Savage. You might not have heard of him yet, but trust me, he is terrible and ugly. His first book comes out this August with my same publisher. Woot.

The only problem with this scenario: the NCAA tourney starts this weekend. I've never heard of such tragic scheduling in all my life. Good thing CBS streams it online baby!!!!!

Hey, Miss Zoot liked my book so much she upped her giveaway to 3 books! Check it out and put your name in the hat: CLICK HERE. Miss Zoot is pretty much awesome.

Man, I feel so lost now that I'm not reporting every day on a tour. Good news on that, by the way. Angie told me her little analysis of my trip showed they came out ahead. Which, evidently, is better than NOT coming out ahead. Woot. Also, I was the #8 bestseller in all the Deseret Book stores last week. Woot. (Honestly, I don't know what "woot" means or if I'm using it correctly.)

Oh, btw to Ron Simpson: the reason I'm so behind on Lost is BECAUSE we have a DVR. All the episodes are sitting there nice and pretty, waiting for a certain Lost marathon that will occur very soon in the Dashner household. Can't wait. NO SPOILERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wow, random. I'm pretty sure it's time to end this post now. I promise to be more interesting next time. Later!

Monday, March 17, 2008

The King's English and Miss Zoot

Tuesday night. March 18th. Tomorrow. 7:00 pm.

I really want this to be a good event for The King's English. So, if you live within 100 miles of the bookstore, please quit being so selfish and drive over to see us. I mean, after all, you do get a free poster - doesn't that make it worth the gas? :-) And a chance to hear me read from my book and ask me questions. Why, you should be willing to drive 200 miles. Nay, 300! (Okay, do I sound desperate yet?)

Here is the address: 1511 South 1500 East in Salt Lake City. It's right next to a Starbucks in case you need a cappuccino or hot chocolate or caramel steamer or strawberry frap (my fave).

It'll be a lot of fun. And it's the coolest place - you have to see it if you've never been there. I think our crowd will be quaint and intimate and very, very fun since I didn't speak at any schools associated with the signing. So please come!!!!!!!

And I'm sorry for calling you selfish.

By the way, Miss Zoot is having a giveaway for a signed copy of The 13th Reality. All you have to do is comment to enter. Check it out: CLICK HERE.

And for those of you who liked my book, please go review it on Amazon and If you have time, of course. Because I love you.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Change the World Tour: Day 13

The Tour is not over. In fact, it will never be over. But our first 2 weeks are done, and the Change the World Tour is officially paused. I thought I'd be so relieved at this point, but I'm actually sad because I had so much fun with the students, teachers, librarians, foundation folks, bookstore employees, etc. It was an awesome experience that I'll never forget.

Yesterday, Day 13, I went to Hooper, Riverdale, and Pioneer Elementary Schools. The amazing Cathy and Rachel from Deseret Book were the poor souls who had to go around with me, and it was great to have them along. I feel like I'm out of superlatives to describe these school experiences, so I apologize to those toward the end of this 2 week tour. But I loved being with you just as much as those at the beginning.

A huge thanks to everyone for making this an unforgettable time (especially Cathy Blaisdell, who has supported me from the Jimmy Fincher days and is one awesome lady).

Last night was a great way to end it, too. We'd sold 60 or so books at the schools during the day, so I expected a repeat of the slower signing the previous night. Instead, we had a big crowd that lasted a couple of hours. Even then, we got a call from a parent asking me to stay just 10 more minutes. I did, of course, and luckily got to meet the Official Last Person to Buy a Book from James Dashner on His Two Week Tour That's Not Really Over but is now Paused. Congrats, Lucas.

Here are the official stats of the past 2 weeks. Most of these are estimates, but should be pretty close:

States Visited: 4
Schools Visited: 24
Students Spoken To: 6,000
Book Signings: 7
Books Sold (with me present): 900
Posters Signed: 1,000
Total Signatures: 1,900
Carpal Tunnel Injuries: To Be Determined
Unhealthy Meals Consumed: 8
Somewhat Healthy Meals Consumed: The rest
All You Can Eat Sushi Meals: 1
Traffic Tickets: 1 (Photocop in Duluth, GA for running a redlight. I have no memory of doing this.)
Blog Posts: 13
Airplane takeoffs: 5
Airplane Landings: 5
Obnoxious Snoring People Within Three Feet on Airplanes: 1
Miles Travelled: 5,632
Books Read: 0.5
Pages Written: 0 (This is my most shameful statistic.)
Wives Missed: 1
Kids Missed: 4
Friends Missed: 1 (You can all fight over which one it was.)
Episodes Behind in "Lost": 4
Total Books Sold So Far: No idea
Times I Thought This is Too Good to be True: 1,534,846
Days Until Book 2 Comes Out: 350

Well, as promised, I posted about every day of the tour. I kinda got lazy toward the end, but I felt like I was just repeating myself. My final conclusion is that being an author is the best thing on the planet, especially a children's author. I have no doubt that never in my life have I had so many fulfilling moments jam packed into such a short period of time.

To all of you elementary and middle school students I had the fortune of visiting, thank you. And a big thanks to all the "old people" I met, too. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Look for details on more tour dates, coming soon.

And next week, I'll resume regular blog posts, talking about anything and everything, no matter how stupid. Bye!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Change the World Tour: Day 12

Today was a little different, but great. My visits today were sponsored by the Granite School Foundation, and they went around with me to every school (thanks to Scott, Sandy, Karma, and everyone else). Deseret Book also went and sold books at the schools. I was amazed at how many we sold, which kind of lessened the signing tonight, but that doesn't matter now does it?

I bet in total we sold around 150 books today, maybe 200. A surprisingly large amount of those were Jimmy Fincher books. Jimmy's makin' a comeback!

Thanks to Rolling Meadows, Monroe, and Farnsworth Elementary Schools, and all the wonderful people there: teachers, librarians, principals, and students alike. I had a great lunch with some students at Rolling Meadows. That is so fun and I hope to do more of that.

Whew, today was by far the most hectic yet. We had to blister through those signings at the schools in order to get to the next one. Sandy from the Foundation was pretty much superwoman making sure everything went smoothly. I told her when I become a billionaire I'm going to hire her full time. I tried my best to spend a little time with each student, but we didn't get much. Oh well.

The signing tonight was fun, if a little slow. I think most of the kids who wanted books bought them at the school. But we still had a crowd of 30 or so, and it was really fun to take more time with people. I had quite the crowd of student bodyguards tonight.

A quick shout out to Dan, Tracy, and Zach from the Deseret Book store at Valley Fair Mall. They were awesome and made me feel right at home. I really enjoyed getting to know you guys.

Almost Favorite Moment of the Night: When this kid named Dylan quietly asked me to add "The Chick Magnet" under his name on the poster I signed to him.

The Favorite Moment of the Night: When the crowd dwindled to 3 kids, I found 2 extra t-shirts that had been hiding. This 6th grader named Jose very humbly and kindly insisted that the two 4th grade gals get the shirts, not him. And seriously, this guy was as sincere as you can get. And he wants to be an author someday. Jose, you are my Person of the Month, dude.

Well, tomorrow is the last day of the first leg of The Change the World Tour. There will be other cities in the next couple of months, but this was a good start. I might be a little tired, but for the most part I enjoyed these 2 weeks more than I even thought I would. Thanks for sticking with me as I've posted every day.

By the way, I've received a lot of emails the last week or so, and I promise to get to them. I kinda got backlogged. So please be patient with me.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you live in Ogden, the 13th Reality website has the wrong address for the signing tomorrow night (Friday). It's at 4151 South Riverdale Road at 6:30. IT'S NOT IN HARRISVILLE. (And I'm supposed to say this was discovered by my best friend, Ben "Slackjaw" Egan. So . . . this was discovered by my best friend, Ben "Slackjaw" Egan. Thanks, Ben. You crazy rocker.)

Change the World Tour: Day 11

Oopsie daisy, looks like someone missed blogging last night. Sorry about that. It was a long and great day.

I woke up at 3:40 am to catch my 6:00 am flight and all went smoothly. For the life of me I couldn't sleep on the plane, even though I had a whole row to myself. Maybe it had to do with the creepy guy sitting across the aisle from me who snored the whole time.

Chris Schoebinger from my publisher picked me up at the airport in Salt Lake City and drove me to my first school, Butterfield Canyon Elementary. This is a special place to me because I've been there before and I'm very close now to the principal, Shelly Davis. The Literacy Facilitator, Laurie Larsen, is also awesome. Needless to say, we had a great time and Butterfield solidified their status as one of the Top Ten Greatest Schools of All Time.

Angie Wager from Barnes and Noble, who I've talked about before, was nice enough to come with me to every school today. She's definitely one of the 4 or 5 people with the most influence on my career, so I'll always be grateful to her. Even though she's psycho (in the good way) and loves my wife way more than me.

We also went to Hayden Peak Elementary and Copper Canyon Elementary. Thanks to Jayne Wassom and Stephanie Rich from the schools. Steph was a supporter from the very beginning of the Jimmy Fincher days, so I love her to death. She even came despite being off track! And Hayden Peak was incredible - and had the most students come to the signing last night.

I finally reunited with my family today. They came to the last school visit, and there was much merrymaking and joviality (that's for those of you who loved my frolicked with glee comment). I don't like to get into my personal life too much on this blog, but I think you know very well how awesome it was to see my wife and kids after a week and a half of being gone. Insert about 30 adjectives like wonderful and sweet and you'll get the picture.

Chris took my wife and me out to dinner before the signing. We had such a great time, I was ticked off when we had to leave. It was the first time Chris and my wife had met, and luckily they both thought the other was very cool.

Finally, the signing at Barnes and Noble. Angie took great care of the Dashner Dude as usual, providing me with a strawberry frap to last through the night. She even reminded me when I needed to shake it up. The event was awesome - Angie just emailed and said we sold almost 200 books total yesterday (including some Jimmy Fincher Saga books). Not bad, eh?

Once again, there are people I'd really like to mention. But I don't dare because I know I'd leave someone out. But for all of those who came, especially you students from the schools, thank you very, very much. Yesterday was one of the greatest days ever.

I gotta get out of here. Three schools and another signing tonight!

It's good to be home.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Change the World Tour: Day 10

I thought I'd go ahead and post about the day before my booksigning tonight. My flight leaves Phoenix at 6:00 am so I need to go beddy-bye as soon as I get back. 6:00 am. What kind of a horrible person would schedule a 6 am flight? (I'm looking at you, Angie.)

Actually, I'm totally kidding because I got off easy only having one such flight this time around. I think Brandon Mull went to a different city every day the first week when Fablehaven 2 came out. Can't wait for that!

Today I frolicked with glee at the following schools: Canyon Springs Elementary, Gavilan Peak School, and Diamond Canyon Elementary. Once again, Virgel Cain from Barnes and Noble showed how studly he is by going to the schools with me. This guy truly and sincerely cares about kids and literacy. Awesome.

A big thanks to Judy Valko (the second librarian from whom I will steal a name for a future book), Gloria Lorton, and Jo Ellen Mercer from the schools. I was treated very well and had a great time with the students. We had really large assemblies today, and I had a blast stepping on people and hearing their groans of pain as I made my way through the crowds for comments.

Virgil and I also swung by the library in Anthem to pay a visit.

My wife will be utterly embarrassed by my choices of meals today: McDonald's and Jack in the Box. What was I thinking?

Well, I have to leave for the signing in a few minutes, and then it's straight to bed. I'll let you know tomorrow how the event goes. For now, just assume that we sold tons of books and that no children were harmed in the process. I do wish the moms would quit hitting on me while I'm signing books, though. It gets really old. I'm happily married, thank you very much. (Yes, I'm kidding - on the moms hitting on me part, not the happily married part.)

I'm sure my wife is mortified right about now. See ya tomorrow. For those of you in Utah, come see me at the Jordan Landing Barnes and Noble in West Jordan tomorrow night (Wed) at 6:30!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Change the World Tour: Day 9

I'm losing my voice. Seriously. I know this will shock those who know me, but I've never spoken so many words within the space of one week in my life. Especially in a louder-than-normal voice because I'm in front of hundreds of excited kids. My throat hurts and my voice is weak. And I'm loving every minute of it.

Today I went to Terramar, Paseo Hills, Village Meadows, and West Wing elementary schools in the Deer Valley school district. A big thanks to the awesome librarians who hosted me: Cheryl Atwell, Gail Salameh, Judy Camarena, and Lynn Dee Witteven. I felt very welcome today, and really enjoyed the students. I know I always say that, but I mean it. Once I despise the kids I visit, I'll let you know.

I have to give a HUGE Dashner Dude shout out to Virgil Cain, the Community Relations Manager at the Happy Valley Barnes and Noble. (By the way, sorry for any confusion. We ARE doing a signing at this store both nights. So I will be there again on Tuesday at 6:30.)

Anyway, back to Virgil. I'm pretty sure this is the coolest man this side of Mars. He actually went to the schools with me to show his support, and everyone at the schools knew him, which showed how involved he is. His concern for kids and their need to read was very obvious. And he treated me like a superstar, which really made my day easier. Virgil, you are THE MAN. Thank you, and I look forward to hanging with you again tomorrow.

I ate all by my lonesome at The Olive Garden tonight. I know, you feel sorry for me. For those of you keeping score at home, I had the Chicken Parmesan, and I asked them to put extra dressing and those funky light-green peppers in the salad. I ate an egregious amount of food.

The signing went great. I'm glad Virgil decided to split it into two signings so I could spend a little more time with each kid. It was extra fun tonight. I also enjoyed immensely getting to know Kirsten from Barnes and Noble, who assisted me at the table and acted as my "bodyguard." The only problem was that she was funnier than me, which made me look bad. But I forgive her because she played Tigger at Disney World so how bad can she be? Oh, sorry, she was "Tigger's friend" at Disney World. Kirsten, you're psychotic, which is the highest compliment I can give you.

The night ended with a chance encounter with one last youngster on the way out of the store, Maddie. She and her family just happened to be going in at that moment, and she had no idea who I was. But Maddie seemed genuinely ecstatic that we met, they bought a book, and it reminded me of how individually awesome each reader can be - and I hope it was fate that made us bump into each other. (Tomorrow I will read this and groan at how cheesy it sounds. Who cares.)

My next assembly starts in 12 hours. Wow. That means I can actually sleep for eight hours tonight. Maybe I should go see a movie. Nah. By the way, we never saw 10,000 BC last weekend. Has anyone seen that yet? Is it good? Please tell me it's good.

Well, now I know why so many people love Arizona. It was 80 degrees today and felt like Heaven. My bed's gonna feel like that, too. Good night!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Change the World Tour: Day 8

I'm really tired. My goal tonight is to write the most boring blog post in the history of mankind. And the shortest.

My mind is totally messed up on the time thing. Today was daylight savings, and then I flew cross country to Arizona, which doesn't recognize daylight savings. I'm pretty sure I don't know what time it is, but I do know I'm about to fall asleep sitting at the desk.

Here's what I did today: said bye to family, flew to Phoenix, had dinner with my wife's sister and her family, checked into my hotel, blogged. Pretty exciting, eh?

I think this is the nicest room I've ever been in. Ever stayed at a Marriott Residence Inn? I have a kitchen, dude. What am I supposed to do with a kitchen? Especially when I get a free hot breakfast downstairs in the morning. Seriously, this room is awesome. You should all come visit me and we could hang in the spacious living room area and watch spring training on the widescreen TV.

Okay, I think I'm losing it. And you can tell I grew up poor because I'm so giddy about a hotel room.

Good night. Tomorrow: 4 schools and a signing at Barnes and Noble on Happy Valley Road.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Change the World Tour: Day 7

It must've been a sign. We woke up this morning to snow, a rarity in these here parts. Since The 13th Reality takes place in a very wintry setting, I'm just gonna go ahead and go with the sign thing.

Speaking of signing, last night was such an experience. I'm not even going to attempt to name names, because I would definitely leave someone out. Though most of the people there were kids and their parents, I had surprise after surprise from people I grew up with, former teachers, neighbors, etc. Seriously, my face hurt from smiling so much.

A big thanks to Alan Siler the Customer Relations Manager. He was obviously surprised that we sold out, and really cool about it - he sent a nice email to my publisher. We talked about doing a much bigger event this fall. So if you stood in line and missed out on a signed book, I'm really sorry and hope to see you again.

Not much happened today, except lots of R&R with the family. The highlight was lunch at a sushi place called Ru San's in Buckhead. All you can eat, people. Need I say more? Then to top it off, my mom made her famous homemade spaghetti sauce for dinner. I'm pretty sure I'll never eat again. Or at least until tomorrow.

Okay, as promised, I'll now give you a quick glimpse of my school presentation.

It begins with a quick introduction and then a 10-minute story building exercise. That sounds incredibly boring but it's probably the highlight of the presentation and gets everyone happy and excited to be there. I basically use 3 volunteers, and we go from the worst story in history to a fun (and usually silly) tale using the ideas of the students. I love this part.

Next we go into a section where I tell two stories, one about me and one about Atticus Higginbottom (the main character in The 13th Reality). My story is told with some very funny picures that exist because of the wonders of PhotoShop. I'll never reveal them to anyone except at a presentation because I don't want to ruin it. I'll just say this: you've never seen a kid laugh so hard as when I show the last picture. The main point: it's hard to get published, but I never gave up and my dream came true.

Then we talk about Atticus, who goes by Tick. I show some illustrations from the book, and talk about how Tick has to solve riddles and meet some very dangerous obstacles. In other words, he has to be SMART ENOUGH and BRAVE ENOUGH. We also talk about people who hit struggles and never gave up, like Albert Einstein and Michael Jordan. This is all done in a much more interesting way than I'm describing. I promise.

Finally, we play a riddle game with a couple of the students. Free t-shirts and posters are given to the kids who helped me - which always makes everyone else very angry with me. But in a good way!

After questions and answers, I end with my ONE MINUTE SPEECH. This is where I try my very hardest to pause and get out of presentation mode and speak from the heart. I tell the kids that I feel very strongly they have it in them to grow up and make the world a better place. That if they work hard to be smart enough and brave enough, and never give up, that each one of them can change the world someday. Hence the name of the tour.

I feel so good about this presentation. It sounds kinda lame just describing it, but I feel very strongly about the message. A huge thanks to my publisher for developing most of it, especially the powerpoint stuff, all the pictures and graphics that make it fun for the kids watching. It's just a tool - I wanna stress that. The vast majority of the time is spent interacting with the kids - just me and a microphone and them. And I really love doing it.

Here's my advice for any of you who may present to the schools. The absolute most important thing you have to do is make them laugh. Be funny if it kills you. Fake it if you have to. But be funny. And then every once in awhile, hit them with your message. That's the way to do it. And, of course, be sincere. Be yourself. Well, unless you're a weird creepy person.

I hope that's enough. Come see me at a school sometime. We have a lot of fun.

Tomorrow it's off to Phoenix, Arizona. Thanks, Georgia!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Change the World Tour: Day 6

I thought I would do today's report in two sections, just in case I'm too incoherent tonight to write about the whole day. The book signing starts in about two hours, so I'll add on to this post afterward and tell you how it went.

I'm utterly ashamed to announce that my mom had to wake me up AGAIN this morning. I'm not complaining though, because the fact that I'm now sleeping so well is a big relief.

It was pouring rain at first, but it quit by the time I arrived at the first school, Head Elementary in Lilburn. We did two assemblies there, for the 4th and 5th graders, and it was great. I really enjoyed the kids.

A big thanks to the media specialist, Linda Herzer, and the parent volunteer, Mandy. Wow, they both treated me like royalty, and I truly appreciate it. In fact, I had quite the treat that is something I hope to do more of in the future:

Linda asked me to stay for lunch after the second assembly, and I mentioned that maybe it would be cool to eat with some of the kids who have expressed interest in writing. She quickly gathered about 15 students and we all ate together in the library.

It was so awesome! I loved every minute of it - these bright kids asking me questions, telling me about stories they had written, making jokes. It was definitely a highlight of the tour so far, and the chicken sandwich wasn't half bad either. In fact, I wish I'd taken two, but I imagined my wife standing on my shoulder telling me to not act like a pig.

The last school of our stay in Atlanta was Hull Middle School. My sister Sarah went with me this time to take some more pictures (I'll add them into this post later tonight). I spoke to the eighth graders, and they were really great. My poor sister almost got trampled handing out the bookmarks and invitations to the signing afterward - she may think twice before ever helping me out again.

So here I am, waiting for the signing tonight. I promised myself I wouldn't worry about them anymore, but of course I lied to all of you. Nah, I'm actually just fine. People will come. If they don't, that's just more time for us to go see a movie afterward. I wanna see 10,000 BC!

One more thing before I go (until tonight's report). I was totally blown away by the article on me that appeared in today's Atlanta Journal and Constitution. It was on the FRONT page of the "Living" section of the paper - with color pictures of me and the book cover. It was also very long and very nice. I had expected a tiny little blurb about the book signing or something, but this was like a real article! I was very excited about it (thanks, Phil Newspaper Reporter Dude!). I'm assuming it's online, too, but I haven't looked yet. Google. It's your friend.

Okay, I'll go ahead and post this, but be sure to check back late tonight because I'll add on a report of how the booksigning goes. Wish me luck!


I'll try to tell you guys more tomorrow, but for now I'll just say this and let it speak for itself: After two hours, with people still in line, Barnes and Noble sold out of books. Needless to say, I'm on cloud nine and my face hurts from smiling so much. A big thanks to all the people who came out tonight, and for those of you who didn't get books, I'm really, really, REALLY sorry. I promise I'll come back.

Good night, and tune in tomorrow for more details.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Change the World Tour: Day 5


Today, it was back to school.

In fact, it was just like the old days. As a kid, easily the worst part of every single day was when my mom opened my door to wake me up for school. I can still hear and feel the sound of that door creaking open every morning. And yes, she did this clear up to my senior year in high school. My mom loves me, and feels that alarm clocks are for underprivileged children. Or maybe we were too poor to have one in my room. One of those two things.

Anyway, I was determined to show my mom that as a 35-year-old I'm no longer in need of this service. Unfortunately, I failed. I slept so soundly last night I couldn't believe it, and if my mom hadn't poked her head in to wake me up, there would've been some awfully disappointed students at Berkeley Lake Elementary.

In fact, in yet another display that one should always listen to their mama, I ignored her warnings that we needed to leave extra early. After all, the school is only 6 miles from her house, I thought. But I'd forgotten what traffic is like in Atlanta and barely made it, just in the nick of time. Tomorrow, I leave the exact second Mom tells me to.

I really missed having Angie with me today. Okay, let's face it - I didn't miss Angie nearly as much as I missed her iPhone. Did I tell you guys how cool that thing is? I hereby declare to the world that I'm getting one for Christmas this year. In all seriousness, I really did miss her, but somehow managed to pull off the day all by my lonesome.


I did 3 assemblies at Berkeley Lake: one for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade. It was cool because my mom came and saw my first one, then my sis and brother (and family) came to see my third one. It made me nervous, because I knew if I failed to be funny, my brother Paul would have cried with shame and anguish. But the neatest thing was having his children there, and hearing afterward that they actually think their uncle is somewhat undorkish.

The assemblies went great, and I felt much more polished and comfortable than I had on Monday in Virginia. Maybe I'm getting the hang of it. I was really impressed with the kids at the school, and how creative and bright their answers, questions, and ideas were. Although two kids said things that almost made my brother in the back collapse from laughing so hard.

One kid told me in no uncertain terms that I should figure out a way to have more tacos in my books. Yes, tacos. At least I think that's what he said.

The other comment was, well, um, let's just say it's something I've definitely never gotten before. We were creating this story, using volunteers, of people in a dark and creepy forest. When I asked for ideas for what one of the characters could be doing to add some mystery to our tale, a nice young man raised his hand and said, "He could be hurting innocent animals." I think we ended up going with the ghost idea instead.

No, but the kids there were really awesome, and I'm sure that little guy just reads too much Stephen King. I'd like to give a big shout out to Jennifer Helfrick, the media specialist at the school, for making me feel so welcome and making it a great event. Not to mention the fact she has such an awesome last name, which I plan on stealing for a future book. (In the one that's about tacos and animal shelters.)

After Berkeley Lake I went out to eat with my family at Ruby Tuesday and then it was off to River Trail Middle School. Now, I was major intimidated there because instead of speaking to elementary kids that laugh at almost anything, these were 7th and 8th graders who were much more demanding. But I adapted well and did my best to remain as un-oldmanish as possible, getting enough laughs to make it a success. And it was cool to deliver the Change the World message to some older students, who are just that much closer to the day when they'll need to do it.

At the beginning I told them I was a little scared because all you have to do is say poopoo or booger to elementary kids and they'll laugh for five minutes. (Although my publisher told me to lay off the potty humor because it upsets some teachers.) But we ended up having a great time in the 2 assemblies and I was really impressed with our question and answer session at the end. I'm telling you people - don't listen to the idiots out there who speak all the doom and gloom about our future. I'm here to tell you, we're in good hands with these kids that will someday run our planet.

Two of the teachers from River Trail spent a while talking with me after, and I just want to give them a shout out. The only problem is I never even asked their names. So to you two, thanks!

After a phone interview with Jodi from a local paper in Utah (West Valley Journal?), it was back to the homestead for a relaxing evening. The highlight of the day was just a few minutes ago when I got to speak to my nephew Jason, who is bravely fighting for his country in Iraq. We miss that kid like crazy and can't wait to see him in June when he comes home for leave.

The article on me for the Salt Lake Tribune ran today. You can read it if you'd like: CLICK HERE.

The pictures of today were taken by my photographer sister. You can see more of them at her Flickr site. CLICK HERE.

See ya tomorrow. Thanks for reading, and I love your comments!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Change the World Tour: Day 4

No better way to start a day than to realize the house in which you grew up is haunted.

No lie. I went in to take a shower in the bathroom I used my entire childhood, and for the life of me I couldn't push in the little silver button that makes the water run from the bath spout to the shower. That thing was plain stuck, and despite my rather voluminous muscular structure, I finally gave up.

I went downstairs (still dressed, thank you very much) and asked what the dealio was. My sister called me an idiot and said I just need to push it harder. I went back into the bathroom. AND THE BUTTON WAS PUSHED IN. Yeah, that's right. My house is haunted.

Sorry, that was probably very anticlimactic. But if you think this was a mere coincidence, please don't burst my bubble. I want my mom's house to be haunted, okay?

Anyway, there is this whole tour thing going on, huh. Today was a great day. This is how awesome my publisher is: because of the scheduling glitch this week, they overnighted me a stack of books so I could go around and deliver them to some schools and libraries. They didn't want me sitting around eating grits all day with my mama.

And let me tell ya, I think this empty day was meant to be. I had the greatest three hour trip around my hometown, visiting my old schools and the town library. Talk about surreal. First stop was at my alma mater, Duluth High School. The Wildcats. My mom works in the counselor's office and all six of her children graduated from the school.

Of course, I started by embarrassing myself. Mrs. Seals works with my mom, and I purposely put her name in The 13th Reality. Only problem was I put her name as Mrs. Sears. I realized this right after I said hi to her and told her she was in the book. I really hated telling her that I forgot her name and that I was terribly sorry.

I was able to see my AP English teacher Mrs. Becker, my old Biology teacher Mrs. Kinard, both of whom were very influential on me back in the day. I also saw Mrs. Casalou, mom of one of my best friends growing up. It ended with donating a book to Dr. Hunter the librarian. I'm so glad I was able to go.

Next I went to Mason Elementary, which is only a mile from my house but wasn't there when I was a kid. The principal, Mrs. Deweese, was one of my favorite teachers in middle school, and we spent a good half hour catching up. I left her far more 13th Reality goodies than she could handle.

And then the real kicker. I keep revealing things to you guys that totally kill my reputation as Mister StudBuddyBillyGoatMountainMan, but I have to admit I got just a teensy bit teary eyed as I walked up the stairs to B.B. Harris Elementary School, the very place I spent Kindergarten through 5th Grade. It didn't work out to present to them this time around, but I really wanted to stop by and give them a couple of books.

My mom's neighbor, Ms. Fullerton, teaches third grade there, and I sought her out. I can't describe the feeling of walking around that school, visiting with her students, giving the books to the librarian, reliving my past. It was incredible and I'll never forget it.

My final stop was the Duluth Library, where I gave a book to a real nice librarian named Jan, who I love because she remembered when the library used to be in the old courthouse building downtown 20 years ago.

Other than that, it was a relaxing day with the family. We ate lunch at a pizza joint called Pepperoni's, and had lasagna for dinner. My nephew Matthew came over to join the others who were here last night. My brother Paul and his family get in later tonight. I made everyone sign a contract to let me go to sleep at a decent hour so I'm not a zombie tomorrow when I visit the schools.

The 13th Reality Charity Drive is going pretty well, I guess, but I think I did a poor job of organizing it. I'm pretty sure I'm just going to donate a big chunk to the charity and call it good. Next time, I'll have someone smarter than me figure out how to run it! I'm worried too many people just thought it was a ploy to drive sales, and I didn't mean that at all. So I'll talk to my wife and we'll decide a good amount to donate. Anyone who'd like to join in and pledge, let us know.

Speaking of sales, I'm pretty ecstatic about hearing from several sources that various Barnes and Nobles and Borders have already sold out of their copies of The 13th Reality. That can only be a good thing. I just hope they order more in! Also, Amazon still has an amazing price, almost 6 bucks off. Check it out while it lasts.

Okay, I keep promising to talk more about the actual presentation. I'm now officially declaring that I will do it Saturday or Sunday, when I have nothing scheduled. Today ended up being more full of activity than I originally thought.

Everyone is sitting here watching Ghost Hunters on the SciFi Channel. As much as I desperately wish that show were for real, I ain't buying it. We also watched American Idol. Last week I confessed to my wife that I was officially in love with Kristy Lee Cook, and declared her the most beautiful woman who had ever walked the Earth. My wife was cool with it because she knew I had no chance with Kristy. Well, the love affair is over. She didn't look so hot tonight, and I'm thankful for my wife.

(And yes, I'm obviously kidding, for those of you who were about to send me hate mail.)

Well, that's about it for tonight. Next stop: Berkeley Lake Elementary at 9:00 tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Change the World Tour: Day 3

Sorry, folks. Today is going to be awfully boring compared to yesterday. And tomorrow, actually. You see, we kind of hit a glitch on our first week. Originally, I was supposed to spend 2 full days in Virginia, travel on Wednesday, then spend Thursday and Friday in Georgia. But Virginia ended up having testing or something, so Tuesday didn't work out.

So I flew to Atlanta today and have nothing planned tomorrow. Which is fine by me because I have a lot of family here and will enjoy myself thoroughly. Plus, then I'm going to have the craziest 9 days of my life, with 6 booksignings and a couple dozen schools.

I love how today started in the airport. Angie and I are sitting there waiting to board, and the Delta Dude announces that all traffic has been grounded in Atlanta due to "severe weather." He followed this statement by saying "we hope to leave in 15 minutes."

Say huh? Let me get this straight. At this very second, the weather is so dangerous in Atlanta that no planes can land or take off. But oh well, I reckon it'll all be safe and sound in a few minutes. Needless to say, it didn't make me feel too excited to get on the plane, and Angie made fun of me ruthlessly. She has no compassion or tact whatsoever.

We took off, and it was pretty rough, but not nearly as bad as I thought it'd be. For those of you keeping track at home, I listened to the complete albums of Van Halen 1984 and U2 Unforgettable Fire on my iPod. For some reason I wasn't in the mood to read. Then we landed without dying.

So now I'm in Atlanta. Angie went on home because I convinced my publisher to let me try to do it by myself in Atlanta and Phoenix. The more money we save, the more they'll have to spend on other marketing stuff.

I have to admit, it was VERY nice having Angie with me, so I kinda wish I hadn't agreed to this. We'll see how it goes. At least they made sure that someone at the bookstores will be there to help me during the signings.

My sister Sarah picked me up with her cute boy Isaac. He informed me several times on the way to my mom's house that I'm his best friend. By the way, in case you didn't know yet, I was born and raised in Georgia, and it's great to be home. I'm in hog heaven right now, sitting around with my sweet southern mama, my sisters Lisa and Sarah, my niece Rachel and her husband Minho.

Quick plug: Sarah is freaky good at photography. Check her out: CLICK HERE.

Not much else to report. I promise tomorrow to give a detailed account of the presentation I'm doing at the schools.

Oh, 2 quick cool things. I had a nice surprise today when I found out my publisher arranged an interview with the Atlanta Journal and Consitution, the biggest paper here. We did it over the phone and Patrick "The Dashner Dude Publicist Dude" Muir sent them some photos. I can't remember if I mentioned that the Salt Lake Tribune also is doing a story on me. Sweet! 2 major papers.

Also, my good friend and Farworld (coming soon) author J. Scott Savage told me he heard a really nice radio ad for The 13th Reality out in Utah. That's not too shabby.

Okay, sorry the picture thing in Virginia was a bust. The only one I got from Angie is up above, and you can barely see me. Maybe that's a good thing. But my sister Sarah has started a place on Flickr to download any and all photos associated with The 13th Reality. All of you awesome people who took pictures last night (I'm looking at you, Cat!), please check it out and share. Here's the link: CLICK HERE.

Well, thanks for checking in. Talk to ya tomorrow.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Change the World Tour: Day 2

Wow. All I can say is wow. Today will certainly go down as one of the greatest 10 days of my life, right behind the whole marriage and kids thing and right ahead of the Braves winning the World Series.

(Before I continue, I have to say one thing. We had to leave the signing tonight, even though a parent had called and said they were on their way. All the way back to the hotel, I kept telling Angie that some kid in the world was going to be devastated and would haunt us for the rest of our lives. That I'd wake up in the middle of the night and see some poor child's face hovering in the air, weeping and asking me, "Why do you hate me, Mr. Dashner?" To that kid, and to his parents, all I can say is that we're truly sorry. Please don't haunt me, however. I get scared.)

The day started bright and early, especially considering the time change for poor little me. I tried so hard to go to sleep last night, and tried hard again to go BACK to sleep after waking up too early this morning. But my nerves were too juiced, and so I only slept 5 hours at best. I'm really feeling it now, but will keep slapping myself until I get this post done.

Angie Godfrey, the wonderful and awesome Angie Godfrey from my publisher, picked me up at 7:45 a.m. and we headed off for the first school, Randolph Elementary in Crozier, VA. Angie has an iPhone, and I'm here to testify that it is one of the single coolest things that has ever been invented, one slot ahead of the automobile and one slot behind the machine that makes pepper jack cheese.

I was knighted as the navigator for the day, and did so flawlessly (almost) throughout the day thanks to the wonders of the iPhone and Google Maps. Before I heap praise on the 4 awesome schools we visited, I want to make 2 observations about this area around Richmond, VA.

This place is unbelievably beautiful. I mean it. I seriously want to live here. Rolling hills, farms, wheatfields, tree-lined roads, awesome architecture everywhere. All somehow magically surrounding this pretty big city. In fact, it was kind of eerie. Angie and I really thought that somehow we went through a portal and entered another world (or yes, another Reality).

Honest to goodness, we were in downtown Richmond, skyscrapers everywhere, and then 2 minutes later we were in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by breathtaking scenery but not a single restaurant in sight. The Dashner Dude almost had to skip lunch and groan and whine incessantly during the last 2 presentations, but a gas station suddenly popped out of nowhere and had a deli inside. Our lives were saved at the last minute.

Anyway, back to the story. Our first school was Randolph Elementary, home of the Roadrunners. The principal, one of the coolest guys I've ever met (Stacey Austin), deemed me worthy of being hailed as one of their own, and like he said, once a Roadrunner, always a Roadrunner. Angie helped me set up the laptop and projector, and off we went.

I couldn't possibly have imagined a more perfect way to start my tour than visiting Randolph. Stacey and the librarian, Ms. Plowcha, treated me like an old friend from the get go, and I had an awesome time. The kids were smart and well behaved and funny and sincere. I loved every minute of it.

(Ya know, the next couple of days are slow due to travel and a cancellation, so maybe I'll give you the details on the actual presentation I give then. I don't what this post to get too long!)

Mr. Austin did a podcast of the kids answering some questions and me as well, which you can listen to on their website. Google it, people.

Next came Mary Munford Elementary. Another awesome assembly, more awesome kids. Thanks to the librarian, Elena Yamashev, who had such a cool accent I could've talked to her all day. Then came Ward Elementary. Another awesome assembly, more awesome kids. One cool thing here: "Channel 99" filmed the presentation and they are going to show it to all the schools in the county. Thanks to Elizabeth for doing that.

I also want to mention Andrea Velle here. She's the librarian at Ward, and is just one of those people that's so sincere and genuinely interested in you. She really made me feel at home and comfortable, and we had a blast at her school.

The fourth and final school was William Fox Elementary, and a big thanks to their librarian, Faithe Mikense. My presentation had gotten more polished by then, and as it was the last, I was probably the most relaxed I'd been all day. The kids were really great.

I don't know what to say about these school visits. Maybe it's the water out here in Virginia. Maybe they just have extraordinary parents and teachers in these here parts. But I was really impressed by the behavior, smarts, and ideas of the students. I'll definitely take some time tomorrow or Wednesday to tell you more specifics about the actual presentation itself and what I did with the kids. And I really wish I could mention more names - especially of some of the students I met. But if any of you read this, just know that you blew me away.

After the presentations, so began the long 3 hours of waiting until the booksigning to see if anyone would actually show up. Angie kept telling me to quit worrying about it, but I couldn't. Because, basically, I'm an idiot.

We ate at The Cheesecake Factory. We were driving around the big mall at Short Pump (I still have no idea what that means), scanning each passing restaurant with bored indifference. Then something happened. At the same time, we saw TCF and screeched with delight. It wasn't a question. We went there for dinner. The only problem was that it took almost an hour to decide what to get. I've never seen a place with so many options, and all of them good!

And so came the booksigning. The first one in the history of mankind for The 13th Reality.

We walked into the Barnes and Noble. At first I couldn't see any sign that someone had showed up caring one whit about me or my book. Then Pam the CRM (Community Relations Manager) spotted us, one of the nicest ladies I've ever met, and showed us to this big table with stacks and stacks of my book on top. It was then I noticed a crowd of about 20-30 people already lined up, even though we still had 10 minutes before starting time. Relief washed through me, and I never looked back. I also promised myself I would never stress about a signing ever again.

I don't know how many books we sold. A lot. I know I was signing books for an hour and a half straight, and I never complained once. :-) It was a good balance - I was able to spend a minute or two with each student and their parents, and had a great time. Everyone got a free poster, and most people bought a book, many bought 2 or 3. Or 4 or 5. It was awesome.

I feel like I'm not doing justice to what a great day I had. I think it's mainly because my mind shut down about 20 minutes ago and I desperately need to sleep. I think stuff like this can really drain you mentally and emotionally, and make you feel as tired as if you'd dug ditches all day. My back even hurts. But I just hope that all the good people of Virginia I met today, whom I had the privilege of meeting today, will know that you've touched my life forever and given me some memories that will never be forgotten.

No matter what happens in my career, no matter what happens with The 13th Reality, no matter how big it gets (I hope), no matter what, one thing will always be for certain.

Virginia, you were first. And as cheesy and cornbally and eyerolly as it sounds, I'll never forget that.

NOTE: Angie took pictures, but is having trouble emailing them to me. I will post pictures in the next day or two.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Change the World Tour: Day 1

Well, I am officially on the road! For those of you who are truly hard up for entertainment, strap on your seat belts and read about my exciting day of travel from Salt Lake City to Richmond, VA.

I woke up this morning feeling pretty good. I saw Sara Zarr (2007 National Book Award Finalist) on Friday night and she gave me a good pep talk that settled my nerves a bit. By the time my kids were screaming and yelling at the crack of dawn today, I was anxious to go.

After packing and such, my whole family took me to the airport. My kids spent the entire drive making up completely stupid and unfunny jokes, at which they laughed uproariously. However, one from my three-year-old girl was quite clever I thought, and actually made me laugh out loud.

She said, "Why did the chicken hit his friend in the head?" Answer: "Cuz they weren't friends anymore."
Anyway, after a very sad goodbye to the family, and numerous hugs and kisses (some from my kids har har), I was off to the ticketing line. Today, I thought what better way to travel than to wear the official 13th Reality t-shirt. So if you saw a slightly goofy looking guy wearing this shirt today in airports, it was probably me.

From the front:

From the back:

The travel was surprisingly pleasant, despite an odd set back. The lady at the check-in desk told me very kindly when I asked for an aisle seat that I had no worries - aisle seats were booked for me on both legs of the flight. Strangely enough, I sat in the middle on both. Luckily, the people I squeezed between were very nice. Though one dude kept rubbing this smelly ointment on his face, and it kind of creeped me out.

Did you know you have to order a meal from Delta now, from a menu, and PAY for it? I guess those nasty two-inch-square sandwiches were just costing way too much. I settled for the free peanuts and a small bottle of water. Which were, ahem, "complimentary."

Anyway, not much else to say. While flying, I read 135 pages of "Next" by Michael Crichton, watched the movie "Enchanted" on the plane, and listened to quite a bit of Zeppelin on my iPod. It was the first time I'd travelled since being the last person on the planet to get an iPod, and let me tell ya, it was nice. Oh, and I ate chicken fingers and fries from Checkers in the Atlanta airport. I also used the facilities twice . . . okay, maybe I'm getting too detailed.

I landed in Richmond, VA just 10 minutes late, at 8:50 local time. After a slight panic attack when it seemed like the bags were all delivered - without mine - my flowered suitcase came rumbling past the plastic flaps and whatever dark things hide behind them. I hereby officially plead with my wife to buy me a bag that isn't covered in colorful flowers. I got some looks.

Angie Godfrey from my publisher picked me up, whisked me away to the Marriott Fairfield Inn, and told me to be ready at 7:30 in the morning. So here I am, in the hotel, getting very sleepy eyed as I type this. I hope I can fall asleep, slumber well, and wake up rarin' to go in the morning. The schedule is tight tomorrow - 4 schools and a book signing at Barnes and Noble.

If you live near Richmond, come see me! Monday night, 6:30 pm, 11640 West Broad St., Barnes and Noble at Short Pump. I have no idea what Short Pump means, but it sounds very intriguing.

Don't forget the 13th Reality Charity Drive. See details HERE. But basically, tell us you bought the book from now to March 9th, and the royalty goes to charity. I've already received quite a few comments and emails joining in.

Well, thanks for reading. Wish me luck tomorrow. As promised, I will do my best to blog at the end of each and every day of the tour. See ya tomorrow!