Friday, November 30, 2007

Change the World Tour

Chris from Shadow Mountain called me yesterday to discuss the planned tour of schools, not only for the release but in the coming months and years. They really wanted to have a theme and a title and make it sort of event-ish. He was composing a letter to send with ARCs to elementary schools.

Well, there are several things I try to do when I speak at a school. First and foremost, have fun. If you fail on number one, you will accomplish nothing. I also like to create a story with the kids, using their ideas. Then I really want to stress to them how, as cheesy as it sounds, they can accomplish anything they want to in life. Be it an astronaut, an NFL player, a dancer, a doctor, whatever.

They can do it. People will tell them they can't. People told me I couldn't become an author. When all the crusty old badgers told me that only 1 out of 1000 even gets published, much less makes a living from it, I just said, "well dang, I feel sorry for those other 999 saps."

They can do it. And if they want to, they can change the world forever. Just like Lincoln and Edison and Einstein and a bunch of other people did. And to do it, they need to start now by being strong readers and writers.

If I can make them have fun for 99 percent of the time, and then slam them with that message in the last 1 percent, all is well.

So that's why we're calling it the Change the World Tour. Any thoughts? Suggestions? I plan on doing this many, many times, so I'd love your feedback.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Latest on the Author Road

Well, I really enjoyed my last week of taking time off and watching football. Um, I mean, spending time with family and remembering all those things I'm thankful for. This has been quite a stretch without a post, so I will list here a bunch of random things that have happened recently on ye old author journey.

1. The artist, Bryan Beus, completed his 9 full page illustrations for the inside of the book. I've seen them and I love them! I can't tell you how insanely I wish I could show a couple of them on this here bloggy thing, but I can't. My hands are tied on that one. Maybe he'll show it on his website soon.

It's very surreal to see something you've worked on so hard and imagined so often in your mind suddenly come to life visually. It's a very odd and very exciting feeling. It's also a huge relief when you realize that you don't hate it. Especially if, on the contrary, you LOVE it. I think it will add a lot to the experience of reading the final version.

2. My publisher is working with a third party web design company to do the website for my book, which will be Right now it just has the cover with a "coming soon" comment. It sounds like they are going to do some cool things with it. For example, I've written a few riddles for the site that you can solve and win a prize. Also, they might do a monthly contest where kids can make up their own riddles.

Here's an example of one of the riddles, which are meant to be fun and pretty easy:

Count your knees and then add three
Plus your toes but subtract your nose
Your eyes and ears will do just fine
But minus your fingers, all in kind
Count each hair, do it nilly willy
Then subtract them all 'cause that's just silly
Add elbows and shoulders plus eight more
Then finally divide this all by four.

What's the final number?

3. I had a meeting with the marketing team at Shadow Mountain and it was really cool. They basically told me what their plan is, and I left speechless (no small feat). These people somehow make me feel like I'm the most important author in the world and treat me so well that I keep thinking it's too good to be true. I'll tell more in future posts, but here's one thing I'm really excited for: they're sending me to Book Expo America in L.A. from May 29 - June 1 (2008).

4. I also received blurbs (or puffs as my editor calls them) from Brandon Mull (Fablehaven) and David Farland (Ravenspell, Runelords, some Star Wars novels). You know I never brag (hardy har), but I was thrilled that David Farland (real name Dave Wolverton) apologized for taking so long because he refuses to give blurbs unless he reads the whole thing and really likes it. And he gave me one. Sweet! These blurbs, along with Brandon Sanderson's, will all be on the back of the hardback cover.

5. Lisa, my editor, called me while I was literally walking out the door to drive to Arizona last week. She said, in a worried tone, that we have a "problem." You can imagine what happened to my poor little heart. It turned out to be nothing serious, of course. They had miscalculated a bit and had a few blank pages at the end of the book and she didn't want them to be blank.

So she had a brilliant idea, as usual. We decided to put a "snippet" from Book 2 at the end. I delayed my trip a few minutes, ignored the look from my wife, and went upstairs to email Lisa the first chapter. It had been looked at and edited by my critique group, so I felt pretty comfortable giving it to her. She took her favorite section from it, edited, prettied, cleaned, and it will now be at the very end of the book.

6. Finally, one more thing: THE BOOK GOES TO PRESS TODAY!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Authorpalooza Press Release

The following is a copy of a press release for an event in which yours truly is participating. For those of you in Utah, I hope you'll come by and see me! It's on DECEMBER 8TH.


Many of Utah's top children's writers and illustrators will be featured at a giant event to be held on Saturday, December 8 at the Jordan Landing Barnes & Noble in West Jordan, Utah. The event, titled "Authorpalooza" is a day-long autographing party featuring award winning authors and illustrators such as Shannon Hale, winner of a Newbery Honor; Sara Zarr, finalist for the
National Book Award; Mark Buehner, winner of the Caldecott Award; and many others.

The event is an opportunity for residents to get personalized gifts in time for the holidays, as well as to promote the talented pool of local children's writers and artists. The event begins at 11:00 a.m. and runs until 6:30 p.m. at the Barnes & Noble store at Jordan Landing.

The authors and illustrators scheduled to appear are:

11:00 - 1:30: Ken Baker, Mette Ivie Harrison, Sherry Meidell, Christine Graham, Guy Francis, Jessica Day George

1:30 - 4: Sara Zarr, Becky Hall, Randall Wright, Anne Bowen, Mark & Caralyn Buehner

4:00 - 6:30 - Shannon Hale. James Dashner, Kim W. Justesen, Rick Walton, Nathan Hale, Ann Dee Ellis

For more information, contact Kim Justesen at (801) 597-7416, or Angie Wager, Community Relations Manager, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, 7157 South Plaza Center Drive, West Jordan, Utah 84084, (801) 282-1613

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Blurb from Brandon Sanderson

This post has two purposes: to brag that I got a cool cover quote from Brandon Sanderson, and to encourage you, very strongly, that you need to read this dude. He is extremely talented and rocketing up the success ladder.

His first books were in the adult fantasy market, published by the biggest in that genre, Tor. ELANTRIS was a stand alone that was just awesome, original and intriguing. Next came a series called MISTBORN, of which Book 1 and Book 2 are out. These were even awesomer and originaler and intriguinger.

But then, to me anyway, came the real gem. His first children's book, ALCATRAZ VERSUS THE EVIL LIBRARIANS. I'm telling you, I don't care what you're doing, what you're reading, who you're entertaining at the moment. I don't care if you're in the hospital in traction. You need to run to the bookstore tonight and buy this book. It is awesome. Brandon's ability to write something original and fast paced and funny and intriguing and wicked good is just amazing. You will love this book.

In fact, NPR loved it, which is a HUGE deal. Check out this link: CLICK HERE. It was also mentioned on the radio show by none other than Nancy Pearl herself. (By the way, I happen to know that Brandon got a huge advance from Scholastic for the Alcatraz series. Yeah, that's right. Scholastic. Ya know, the publisher of Harry Potter.)

Anyway, I'm honored to say that Brandon read my new book and gave a quote to my publisher, which will appear on the cover of the hardback. But here, exclusively for the millions of Dashner Dude blog readers, you can read it first:

"The Journal of Curious Letters is witty, exciting, and fun. I found this book a delight to read." -Brandon Sanderson

Monday, November 12, 2007

More pre-order spottings

Well, they literally must have just appeared or something because they seem disjointed and incomplete, without images, but I just noticed the book is now on Amazon and Barnes and Noble's websites for preordering.

In fact, I was blown away by the deal you can get on Amazon - it's 33% off if you preorder. Not bad at all. It's 20% off at B&N. The audio is also available for preorder. (No, this is not a shameless urge for you to preorder, this is an "I'm excited it's available for preorder" exclamation.)

Here's the Amazon link: CLICK HERE

Here's the B&N link: CLICK HERE

BOOK 2 WRITING UPDATE: Well, I didn't have much writing time over the weekend, so I'm only at 13,591 words. But I'm still well on my pace, and plan to write tonight after the urchins go to bed. The next scene is mega cool, in a dark and stinky place made completely of metal with a weird dude named Sally. Yeah, that's right. Sally.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Writing Update

Ya know, I'd really slacked off in my book writing duties lately. The main reason is because it felt like everytime I'd start working on Book Two, my editor would call me or email me with something I needed to work on for Book One. Here's a sample list of the types of things I'm talking about:

* Actual content of the book itself
* List of ideas for the artist
* Write riddles for the teaser chapter booklets, upcoming website, etc.
* Review the galleys
* Review the infamous "blue lines"
* etcetera

Well, I'm pretty much done with any possible thing I could do for Book One, so I set a goal to really get hot and heavy in writing Book Two beginning with November 1st. In fact, staying true to my nerdy self, I set up a timeline and some goals to ensure that the first draft of Book Two will be completed by mid-February. I really want to be done with it before I go on tour for the release of Book One.

Well, it's pretty easy when you look at it. If I average 1,000 words a day, six days a week, from now until mid-Feb, then I will succeed. So far, so good. As of today, Book Two, which is tentatively titled, THE PLAGUE OF DARK INFINITY, stands at
12, 784 words. When it's complete, I'd like it to be around 95,000 to 100,000. That means I'm more than 10 percent done! (do the math, you'll see I'm right)

I would tell you some cool stuff about what I'm writing, but since not many people have read the first book, it wouldn't sound very cool, now would it?

Here's a tidbit: the names of the first 7 chapters:

1: The Two Faces of Reginald Chu
2: Burnt Spaghetti
3: Something Odd is Happening
4: Intense Pain
5: Master George's Interview Room
6: A Major Rule Violation
7: A Very Strange Place

Well, if you're actually still reading this post, I say congratulations! You have a high tolerance for painful boredom.

Hope all is well out there. I'm having a lot of fun, a LOT of fun, now that I'm back in writing mode. This is the best job in the world.

Sidenote: A hearty congratulations to Michael Phipps. Talk about a successful art show: someone agreed to buy ALL of Mike's pieces when the show is done in a month. Is that amazing or what!? (and trust me, that ain't chump change)

Friday, November 2, 2007

Michael Phipps Art Show - Jimmy Fincher Covers

Dang it, I meant to post this way earlier and forgot. Dang it all!!!!!

The artist for my Jimmy Fincher books, Michael Phipps, is participating in an art show in downtown Salt Lake City tonight. This dude is the stud of studs and his art is awesome. You can see his covers on this here page if you just take a gander to your right and scroll down a bit.

The original paintings for the covers will be on sale at this show. I plan on going myself to see if the Dashner Estate coffers can afford to buy one. How cool would that be!

Please, if you're in the area, go check out all of Michael's incredible work. Here is the scoop:

127 South Main Street
Salt Lake City, UT

There will be a reception, TONIGHT, November 2nd, from 6:00 to 9:00 pm. Important: then the art will be displayed there for the next month. So if you can't make it tonight, come later. But hey, you need to meet the man himself!

Go check out Michael's website: CLICK HERE

(sidenote: if you're wondering about the ARCs, please see previous post)

Thursday, November 1, 2007

ARCs are here; Addresses

After much anxious waiting and staring at the phone for weeks, I was hit with a double whammy yesterday. The little "Teaser Chapter" booklets came in the morning, and the Advance Reader Copies (ARCs) came in the afternoon. So basically, I spent all morning and afternoon staring at the booklet in awe, then spent all evening staring at the ARC in awe (after my kids and I went around begging people for free candy).

And my wife gave out the booklets to trick or treaters. How's that for shameless promotion? (Actually, we only gave them to people we know really well, and yes, we did give candy, too.)

btw, in the "Dashners Are Original" department, my 4 kids dressed up as Dracula, Spiderman, Cinderella, and a pirate. I guess we're only creative when writing stories.

Because of the contest a few weeks ago, some of you will be receiving ARCs from my publisher. However, a few of you never gave me your address to pass on. Speak now or forever hold your peace:

Marcia Mickelson
G. Parker
Don (15 minutes of delusion blog)
Lisa (time remembers blog)
Shaunda Wenger
Sarah Kiesche (uh, sis, I'm not sure I have your new address so email it to me, please)
Tristi "Badaboom Badabing" Pinkston

You may have indeed sent it, but if you did, I lost it. Please email me through my website.

And, of course, if my wonderful mom is reading, you'll be getting a copy, too.

I'm really curious on when and where the booklets and/or ARCs will show up in bookstores, at schools, etc. Please, if any of you guys ever spot one, please let us know in the comments.

Thanks, and Happy November!