Wednesday, April 29, 2009

First Draft Done!

I'm happy to announce that the first draft of THE SCORCH TRIALS, sequel to the upcoming October 6th release, THE MAZE RUNNER, is complete. And no one was injured or unduly mutilated during the process. Yay!

Clocking in at 98,000 words, it'll probably end up several thousand longer because I have a whole page of notes, mostly things I need to go back and add or flesh out. But the skeleton of the beast is done. Is it good, you ask? Of course! So good it'll make your eyeballs jump right out of your head and do the hippie hippie shake.

Quick other things:

1. I appeared in Publisher's Weekly twice this week. The first one (CLICK HERE) is an article about galleys (aka ARCs aka Advance Reader Copies) you should grab while at Book Expo America (BEA) in NY next month.

2. The second one (CLICK HERE) is their preview of BEA, and my book is mentioned in the section on Random House.

3. Stories for Children Magazine is running a short story contest, and an autographed book by me is one of their prizes. For details, CLICK HERE.

4. And finally, after months of anticipation, we saw the musical WICKED last night. Dare I say it? Dare I? Ummmm, yes, I dare. It was wicked awesome! I'll talk more about it later.

5. I don't get to celebrate too much after completing the first draft. My deadline is quickly approaching, and I have a lot of work to do before this puppy is ready to submit. Plus, I'll be out of town three weeks during that time.

6. But ya know what? I love my job. I really, really, really love my job. Even more than cheese, football, DVRs, movies, and potato chips. Even more than Zac Efron. Yeah, that much.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Storymakers and Whitneys

Wow. Before I say anything else, I just want to say thanks to the many Dashner Duders who came to the writers conference this past weekend. Simply put, you blew me away. T-shirts (Donna and Debbie). Dashnog buttons (LexiconLuvr). Iron-ons (Graham Chops). Just amazing. Here are some pictures:

(If you're new here, the Duders have been creating a language they call Dashnog based on the confirmation words you have to type in to leave a comment.) I am one lucky author.

I've been debating ever since I got home how to blog about this past conference. My studly man friend, J. Scott Savage, was in charge, and he pulled it off spectacularly. Great facilities at the Marriott. Awesome guests, awesome classes, awesome food, awesome everything. And over ONE HUNDRED more attendees than last year. Can you say "word of mouth?"

The thing is, I don't really know what to say or who to mention. I don't dare risk leaving anyone out. And if you weren't there, you just wouldn't appreciate the awesomeness of it all. But for two very full days I had the time of my life, and I just want everyone involved to know how thankful I am. So, thank you. Very much. Like, way much. Like, really, really, really ababunda much.

A special shout out to Dean Lorey, our keynote speaker and author of the NIGHTMARE ACADEMY series from Harper Collins and an accomplished screenwriter/ producer in Hollywood. I ended up lucky enough to be your official escort buddy liaison person guy, and I enjoyed every minute of it. You've inspired me to give screenwriting a shot.

The best part of all was meeting old friends and new, as well as people who used to be fans but are now friends. Whattup. Let us hear from you in the comments.

To cap it all off, I was shocked and honored to win the Whitney Award for 2008 Best Youth Fiction (THE 13TH REALITY). To everyone who voted, thank you very much. My only regret was that I gave the single stupidest acceptance speech in history because I genuinely didn't expect to win and hadn't prepared. At all. I didn't even thank my wife! Idiot. (Me, not my wife.)

Sweetie? Love of my life? Most glorious woman mine eyes have ever beheld? The goddess who helped me get to where I am? Thank you.

And thanks to everyone responsible for creating and attending a conference I'll never forget. And I'm sorry I didn't mention more names. I just can't risk leaving so many good people out!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Two Things

1. I hit 90,000 words today on the sequel to MAZE. I'm right in the thick of the climax, and it hasn't been easy. Not sure why. It's funny, though. I'm so anxious for people to read this 2nd book and the first one is still over 5 months away!!!

2. Simple question. Should I twitter, or should I not twitter? I've signed up, even have some followers, but haven't used it yet. My faithful blog readers are going to decide for me. Tell me what you think.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Random Monday Thoughts

NOTE: You'll want to hang in there to get to number 10. Trust me.

1. Faithful Dashner Duder Enna Isilee announced in the comments that she was able to convince Random House to send her an advance copy of THE MAZE RUNNER for her to review. Sounds to me like you should all visit her blog and begin the investigating. She must know something. CLICK HERE. Enna, I want to know what you think IMMEDIATELY!!!! Unless you hate it. If so, go tell your dog.

2. Arlene asked if THE 13TH REALITY was going to be a trilogy. This question surprised me because I've known all along that this series was planned for five books and I just assumed everyone else knew that. But now that I think about it, nowhere on the website or anywhere else does it say so. But there's your answer: Five book series. MAZE will be a trilogy. I have a lot of writing to do.

3. My wife and I saw STATE OF PLAY with Russell Crowe on Friday. I really like thinker political investigative mystery movies with intriguing plots. This one kept me captivated till the very end. Enjoyed it very much. Especially the eating sushi part before we went.

4. I also saw FAST AND FURIOUS last week because I am male. Can't remember the plot, but a lot of cars crashed and there were explosions. Need I say more?

5. Also saw GOMORRAH, a foreign film about the mafia in Italy. Bored me to tears at first, but then got really, really good. Fascinating and gritty, it will cure you of thinking there's anything even remotely glamorous about living in the underworld of organized crime.

6. Yes, I see lots of movies. Along with reading, they are my number one source for inspiration in my writing.

7. Caught up on THE OFFICE. We had about 5 episodes to watch over the last few days. I really, really, really loved the latest direction it went. I won't spoil it, of course. Second best comedy ever (behind SEINFELD). Though I keep meaning to watch ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT.....

8. I'm sure you guys just sit around anxiously waiting for me to tell you what I've been watching. Sorry. As you can tell, my brain's having a very hard time coming up with stuff to blog about today.

9. My Hawks won the first game of their playoff series last night. Killed the Heat by 26 points. Yeah baby.

10. Okay, so get this. I did a library event on Friday night. What I'm about to tell you is a true story. I wouldn't lie on the Dashner Dude. I met two sisters from a family of ten. I now present to you the names of the eight children in this wonderful family:


The dad's name is Tory. The only oddball in the group is poor Mom, named the very unimaginative and non-rhyming Barbara. If only her name was Gory this tale would be perfect.

Clory and Lory, you had me laughing the entire night and I really enjoyed meeting you.

11. I don't know how to follow that. We'll call it good for today.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Susan Boyle and Reality TV Talent Shows

I know most people have heard about this by now, watched it, whatever. But this appearance (CLICK HERE) by Susan Boyle on Britain's Got Talent really affected me. Funny enough, the same thing happened to me last year when Paul Potts appeared (and won!) on that show (CLICK HERE).

I just love seeing normal everyday people have something special happen to them. Especially when those people are sincere and down to earth and have a glow about them. It's just awesome.

Maybe that's why I've finally given in and started watching American Idol. I especially love the original auditions because so many more genuine people get sent to Hollywood, and Fox does a great job of producing the pieces about their lives. Unfortunately, some of the contestants become a bit big headed by the current point in the show, which is sad.

Another reason I love it? Because man oh man can I empathize when they get harsh feedback or rejected. I know the book industry is a different ballgame, but rejection is rejection, and I can totally feel the disappointment I see in their eyes.

Too bad a writing version of American Idol would bore the tears out of every last person on Earth.

But I can see Simon saying, "That first paragraph reminds me of a vacationing second-rate dad on a cruise ship telling a lame bedtime story to his daughter, trying to get it over with so he can go have a drink at the bar. It . . . was . . . excruciating. Dreadful, really. Sorry, not trying to be rude."


"Just being honest!"

Anyway, congratulations to Susan Boyle. Not only can you sing, you are obviously a wonderful person and deserve this sudden limelight. Oh, and you have a wicked cool accent.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Some people are way awesome

I'd just like to give a shout out to the Granite School Foundation.

These people are amazing! I just finished up two days of school visits with them. Most of them are volunteers and they worked a lot harder than I did to make sure we made it to all 10 schools and still had time to sign a gazillion books, quite a few of them donated. My brain is tired and my face hurts from trying to smile so much, but it was a lot of fun.

Let's see, what else is going on......

LOL. I'm sitting here in the bookstore pretending to work and I just saw some kid buy my second book. I was just about to get up and offer to sign it but it's too late. Plus, I've done that before and sometimes it kinda freaks out the parents. I can't take those first few seconds where they think I'm some kind of creepy monster who likes to kill children.

Anyway, a few random things:

1. I just found out the official schedule for the Provo Children's Book Festival on May 16 at the library. I'm doing a reading at 2:00 (with Jessica Day George), so if you'd like to hear the first chapter or two of THE MAZE RUNNER, try to make it! I'll be signing 13th Reality books afterward, too. Lots of great authors will be there, including Shannon Hale, Brandon Sanderson, J. Scott Savage, Aprilynne Pike, Brandon Mull, and many more.

2. I miss my mommy. I miss her very much. Last week went by way too fast.

3. THE SCORCH TRIALS is now over 80,000 words. I should be finishing the first draft right about the end of April. On Monday I wrote one of the coolest chapters of my entire career. You can look forward to reading it in a year and a half. Har har. Oh how I loathe the long time frames of this industry!

4. Q&A: Donna asked in the comments what I felt like I learned between writing Books 1 and 2 of THE 13TH REALITY. I think the biggest thing is characterization. Especially in giving depth to villains.

5. It's April 15th and it's snowing. Whattup wid dat?

6. Speaking of April 15th, taxes sure are a lot different when you work for yourself. Ya know, I used to be a CPA, but we hired a CPA to do my taxes because I've sworn to never add or subtract again for the rest of my life. (OK, real reason is because I do NOT want to keep up with tax law. Kill me now.)

7. Q&A: Magenta asked in the comments about the typical word count for a young adult novel. Very hard question to answer, as it varies greatly. Anywhere from 50k to 70k is probably the average. All mine hover around 90-100k though. And then you have Paolini, Meyer, and Rowling......

8. I found out some very interesting news about the covers for the paperbacks of 13th Reality. You guys all know about the paperback rights being bought by Simon & Schuster right? Well, I can't say much, but the covers are going to, um, look different. Details to come.

9. It's still snowing.

10. I swear another kid just bought my book. I didn't quite get a full glimpse, but I'm pretty sure. Someone around here must've talked up my books at school today!

11. I love bookstores. I'd like to live in one. When I get Rowling rich, I'm gonna buy a huge bookstore and make it my office. People can buy books, sip coffee, and watch me type on my computer. Wait a minute, that's exactly what this creepy guy is doing ten feet from me. Scratch that idea.

12. I had dinner with a few of the psychos from the Eagle Mountain writer's group last night. They even bought my dinner, though I tried so hard to not let them. Okay, I didn't try that hard. Never turn down a free meal. Very important lesson. Kirk, Donna, and Debbie: thank you! That was really fun.

13. Just for the record, I don't usually sit and watch for people buying my book. I just happen to be sitting in one of the comfy chairs that are close to the registers. Wait, is that another one? Oh, no, just some lame book about vampires.

14. Later.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Random House Catalog

I remember when I first signed with Delacorte last summer, Krista Marino, my awesome editor, was so nice to send me a big box full of recent books she'd edited. Also included were the last 3 seasonal catalogs for RH. And I distinctly remember thinking, man, won't that be cool when I have a book in there?

Well, here it is! I guess this was printed when they planned for it to come out in December (Now October 6th).

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Great Signing, Angie Wager

I just wanted to thank the many people who came out to the signing last night. We had at least 200 people show up, probably more. This was the first time Scott (J. Scott Savage, FARWORLD) and I did an event together, and we should do it again!

Thanks especially to the faithful Dashner Duders who came. I don't dare list everyone or I'll leave someone out! But you know who you are and it was great hangin' wid ya. I hope everyone enjoyed the rare pleasure of meeting my mom, aka Georgia Grandma. That was so much fun having her there.

And now, a special ode to Angie Wager, longtime CRM and friend.

Angie oh Angie my friend so dear,
You've been there for me year after year.
When I was a newbie and my writing stunk,
You whipped me and said, keep trying you punk!
When my first book at last came out,
From a tiny little pub without any clout,
You didn't judge and you didn't care,
You treated me like the best author out there.
You set up schools and signings galore!
Made me run around town till my feet got sore.
And lo and behold people bought my book!
Gave me courage and strength, a new outlook.
I tried harder, kept writing, never gave up.
And then my career took a major huge jump.
A full-time author, who woulda guessed?
You did, Ang, you're the freaking best.
My lifetime dream finally came true,
And I owe so much of this to you.

Ok, so I'm not a poet. But thanks, Angie. I will never, never, never forget what you've done to make my career happen. From that very first Jimmy Fincher book with the pitiful original cover to now. We've come a long way!!!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Release Date for MAZE RUNNER moved up

Just wanted to announce that we all have to wait one week less now! My book's release date has been moved up by Random House to October 6, 2009. Originally it was December 9th, then October 13th, now October 6th.

Whatever works! I'm happy. One less week to sweat bullets and chew my pillow case.

I hope to see some of you on Tuesday night (the 7th) at 7:00 pm at the Jordan Landing Barnes and Noble in West Jordan UT. There was some confusion as to the starting time, so I'll probably go early just in case anyone shows up at 6:00. Angie, does that work?

I'll update this if it officially becomes a 6:00 starting time. All I know is the invitations to the schools say 7:00. I'm so confused.

Friday, April 3, 2009

My fingers hurt

I did a lot of writing! In the last week I've written close to 20,000 words, which is just about the limit my poor little brain can handle. It makes me wonder how Brandon Sanderson is doing it with his completion of THE WHEEL OF TIME series. He told me he regularly shoots for 4,000 words a day. Yowza.

Which reminds me, I forgot to pass along the news about them splitting that last book into three. You may have heard that already. The first volume comes out in November, called THE GATHERING STORM. If you want to read Brandon's very own fascinating take on the situation, CLICK HERE.

So, anyway, THE SCORCH TRIALS is now up to about 72,000 words. I'm looking forward to chillin' with my mom next week. Although I know myself, and I can't fathom going that whole time without writing. Especially right when I'm getting closer to the big climax!

I hope some of you can make it to my signing in West Jordan UT this coming Tuesday, Barnes and Noble at Jordan Landing, 7:00. There'll be free posters, bookmarks, and lots of dancing. J. Scott Savage will also be there with his book FARWORLD. And sorry, I was kidding about the dancing.

There may even be a chance you can meet the very famous Georgia Grandma.....

Faithful Dashner Dude follower "I Like Seth" (who is this Seth guy anyway?) was kind enough to type up the summary of THE MAZE RUNNER that was so fuzzy in my previous post picture of the ARC (Advance Reader Copy). Here it is:

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. He has no recollection of his parents, his home, or how he got where he is. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade, a large expanse enclosed by stone walls.

Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning, for as long as they could remember, the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night, they’ve closed tight. Every thirty days a new boy is delivered in the lift. And no one wants to be stuck in the maze after dark.

The Gladers were expecting Thomas’s arrival. But the next day, a girl is sent up—the first girl ever to arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers. The Gladers have always been convinced that if they can solve the maze that surrounds the Glade, they might be able to find their way home . . . wherever that may be. But it’s looking more and more as if the maze is unsolvable.

And something about the girl’s arrival is starting to make Thomas feel different. Something is telling him that he just might have some answers—if he can only find a way to retrieve the dark secrets locked within his own mind.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Check out what I got!

Even though it doesn't have a cover yet, I'm in love. It's about the only thing I've been able to look at since getting them in the mail. I only got a few, though. So...

I doubt you can read this very well, but here's the summary they came up with.

And look at all the marketing things they plan on doing!