Monday, December 22, 2008

The Good News

Okay, I've strung this out long enough. By now this is probably going to seem anticlimactic, but here we go. Even though it's not official, it's way farther down the line than most book deals that are announced by Publisher's Marketplace. Plus, if it DOES fall through, I'll need you all to console me!

Simon & Schuster is buying the paperback rights to THE 13TH REALITY. This has kind of been in the works for months, but it's pretty much a done deal now. They're negotiating a couple of small things, but my publisher sure seems to think it's definite. For one thing, my friend Wendy Toliver said that when she visited S&S headquarters last week, they had my book displayed in their library. That's gotta be a good sign.....

So what does this mean? A lot of things. S&S is one of the biggest publishers in the world, and I'll now have them backing and promoting my series. They are a big reason why FABLEHAVEN has surged to become a NY Times bestseller, and we can only hope they do the same for me!

It also means that the paperback for Book 1 will not be released in 2009, as originally planned. Book 2 will come out in March '09, and for one full year Books 1 and 2 will only be available in hardback. This is not that unusual. TWILIGHT and many other series have followed this pattern.

In March of 2010, tentatively, Book 3 will come out in hardback at the same time as Books 1 and 2 come out in paperback. Got it? That release may be our biggest hope of hitting the bestseller lists.

Of course, you never know what will happen with THE MAZE RUNNER and Random House. Maybe it'll happen with them first. Or maybe I'm just too dang optimistic!

So there you have it. I think my mind is numb to this news because I've known about its possibility for so long. But if you'd told me 2 years ago that I'd have books published by Random House and Simon & Schuster within a few months of each other, I probably would've fallen dead on the spot. And I know this post doesn't make it sound like it, but I'm very excited.

Woot woot!

See? Told ya.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Why I Live in Utah

I went skiing yesterday. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves:

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Kingsley and Savage

I thought I'd give a big shout out to a couple of authors today, just in time to mischievously influence your holiday shopping. I do happen to know both of these people, but only through the authoring route. And I would never associate with bad writers. :-) Ugly ones, maybe (cue Scott), but not bad ones.

Ladies first:

Kaza Kingsley (definitely not ugly) is the author of the Erec Rex series, and she had some big-time news this year. The first 2 books (THE DRAGON'S EYE and THE MONSTERS OF OTHERNESS) were published by a relatively small press (Firelight). They did so well that the series was purchased by Simon & Schuster in an EIGHT BOOK DEAL!!!!!! That's almost unheard of. This delayed the release of Book 3 (THE SEARCH FOR TRUTH) until June 2009, but it'll be well worth it.

Anyway, Kaza and I have become friends over the Internet and have exchanged signed books, manuscripts, and cover blurbs. Our careers seem parallel in a lot of ways (the biggest way is the good news that I STILL can't tell you yet). Having said all that, I wouldn't be giving this shout out unless I thought her books were incredible, and they are. Seriously, very good stuff. And I'm one of the few to have read Book 3. It takes the series to a whole new level. Congrats, Kaza!!! CLICK HERE for her website.


The other author I wanted to mention is J. Scott Savage. His book is called FARWORLD: WATER KEEP, and it is good, good, good. He happens to be with the same publisher as me and he's also a very close friend. He's taught me more about writing, this business, marketing, you name it, than any other person. And let's face it, this is the only reason I continue to associate with him. :-)

Now, I'm not being biased here. The initial reason Scott (aka Jeff) and I became friends is because of my respect for his writing and knowledge. He's a wizard. And FARWORLD is an awesome book. You (and/or your kids) will love it! CLICK HERE for the website. (By the way, both of these websites are amazing - far better than most book sites.)

Both of these books/series deal with magic and other worldly stuff. But each puts its own unique twist on these concepts that makes them really fun reads.

You can buy them at any bookstore or internet site. Here are the links to Amazon:

I don't do much promoting on this blog - in fact, almost never. (Well, except for myself, which I do shamelessly nonstop.) But I really wanted to tell you about these two fine authors. Give them a chance - you won't regret it.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Revision, Round #2

I heard back from Krista yesterday. For some inexplicable reason I was depressed for about 2 hours, imagining all kinds of ridiculous things like I was causing her too much work and that she'd never buy another book from me as long as she lived. And people, the second round of revisions isn't even that bad! Why are authors so psycho?

Krista told me that she once did 7 rounds of revisions with an author and then bought 3 more books from her. She also said her revisions with me are "normal to minimal." So yeah, that's about a nine and half on the old idiot scale, there, Dashner. I hereby declare that my rookie angst is officially done and over. This is just how it's done. It doesn't mean that I'm a horrible writer.

Why am I even telling you all this? Hey! Look at me! I'm an idiot!

Anyway, all is well, and I'm excited to work on THE MAZE RUNNER once again. This round will be far more pleasant than the last round. And since Krista's going on vacation, I have until January 5th! Plus, this time she made her line edits in the electronic document using track changes, so all I have to do is click "accept" or "reject" for each one. (Who am I kidding, I'll be hitting "accept" 99% of the time.)

Of course, I tossed and turned in bed for about 3 hours last night pondering my fixes. Seriously, these last few tweaks are once again going to take this book to another level. I am one lucky dude to have Krista as my editor!!!!! (And lest ye think I'm brown-nosing, I'm pretty sure she doesn't read my blog - the woman's too busy.)

In other news.....

Tomorrow is Authorpalooza XXLCXXVIIXX, to be held at the West Jordan Barnes and Noble. To be honest, I have no idea who will be there, but probably 10 to 15 authors, including me. It goes from 2:00 to 4:00.

I wanted to share another couple of very nice shout outs for my book that came from highly respectable humans. The first is from my very good friend, um, I mean, this complete stranger that just happens to be a National Book Award finalist. Her name is Sara Zarr. I think. I'm not sure because I, um, don't know her. CLICK HERE.

The other is from Bobbi's Book Nook, run by a very respected reviewer in Kentucky. CLICK HERE.

My last thought: Buy books for presents this year. And this isn't a plea for mine, because if you're here, you've probably already bought mine. But of all the types of presents out there, what could be more valuable and cherished than a good ole book? Save the book industry! Buy books. Buy bookstore gift cards. Not video games. Not toys. Not stupid things. Books.

Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Teens Read, Too

Couple of quick things:

First off, if you haven't checked out the website, teensreadtoo, you should. It's a really great resource. And especially, ahem, since they recently gave me such a glowing review! I thought I'd put a link on here and give them a shout out. Thanks, guys! CLICK HERE to read the review.

Also, sorry I forgot to announce this, but I will be at the LAYTON BARNES AND NOBLE tonight at 7:00. Come and see me! And, very important: the Thursday signing in Bountiful was cancelled a long time ago, but was left on the tour date list over at Sorry for any inconvenience.

Ya know, I'm pretty proud of the reviews we've received for The 13th Reality. In fact, the only slightly negative review came from School Library Journal, and even that one was wasn't so bad. But to have such good ones from the Chicago Sun-Times, Kirkus, the Atlanta Journal and Consitution, the Salt Lake Tribune, the Columbia Tribune, etc., is very rewarding. And even more validating are reviews from sites like teensreadtoo and authors like Brandon Sanderson and Brandon Mull.

You can see some of those reviews if you go scrolling through my old blog posts.

I really don't mean to brag - my book is really a collective effort from a LOT of people. I'm just saying that I'm very proud and very pleased. But ultimately all that matters is what you, the reader, thinks. And if you're here, I'm guessing you liked it. So thanks!

I just heard about the governor of Illinois trying to sell the open senate seat. Yowza.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Book 2 Going to Press

Sometimes I forget that the original purpose of this blog was to give you guys an inside look at the life of an author and the publishing industry. A lot's been going on to get Book 2 ready for press - it's being sent tomorrow. Not a whole lot on my end other than little questions here and there, but it's always fun to be involved.

For example, one item we had to resolve was the title for Book 3 because we really wanted to include that for readers to look forward to. Ever since the first book came out, people have been googling "The Hunt for Dark Infinity" and wondering what in the world it might mean. Although we weren't quite ready to include an excerpt like we did for that one, we wanted to have the title at least.

It hasn't been completely settled yet, but once it is, I'll see if I can reveal the title before Book 2 comes out.

The inside illustrations by Bryan Beus were also shown to me, but I'm not sure if I had any power to change anything if I'd wanted to. Not that it matters - I love them! Book 2 will have 10 full page illustrations, and I really like each one. Bryan, you da man! Maybe one of these days we'll actually meet.

Let's see, what else. It ended up with a few blank pages at the end because of the signature count. I can't remember what the number is, but I guess book lengths are always a multiple of something. I think it's 16. They asked if I had any ideas for what to slip in back there (Michael Scott, don't say it!) but I didn't. I wasn't confident enough in Book 3 yet to include an excerpt. I think they ended up putting a couple of ad pages for other books and one announcing Book 3's title.

Nothing else is popping in my head, but I know I've spoken to Lisa about a million times the last couple of weeks. Anyway, it's all very exciting when your book finally goes to press. There's no pulling back at that point! I should have some copies in my hands by mid-February. Can't wait.

Other tidbits:

The event on Friday for Salt Lake Youth City was really awesome. They made toys for needy kids, played games, I did a little presentation, then Santa came and gave them all a copy of my book and a candy cane.

The puke bug is storming through our house. First the baby, then Kayla, now Bryson. I'm pretty sure we've broken the record for most barf-soaked sheets running through a washing machine in one weekend. Yeah, it's disgusting.

Still haven't heard back from Krista on my rewrites. I'm sure all the publishing industry layoffs last week made for tough times. But there is good news for people who write for children and young adults: most of the layoffs seem to be in the adult divisions. Kids need to read no matter what!

Don't forget you can become a "Follower" of this blog by scrolling down on the right side of this page and clicking on the thingy. I have no idea what that means, but you won't be cool unless you do it.

Speaking of cool, I finally tried to become somewhat active on Facebook (search James Dashner). It's been really trippy to suddenly be in contact with all these people I went to high school with. (Oh, sorry, "with whom I went to high school.") I just assumed they were all dead. (not really) It's been really fun to hear from them - most had no idea I'd become an author. If any of you have made it to the blog, let us know. Duluth High School, Class of '91!!!!!!! (Holy crap, I'm old.)

I guess I'll try to tackle Myspace next. Ugh.

Falcons lost yesterday in a barn burner. It was a very bad loss. Hold me.

Remember I told you I had good news to announce about 2 months ago, and never did? Well, it's getting very close now. Sorry, took longer to solidify than I'd imagined. Stay tuned.

Have a great week!!!!!!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Back to Normal

Today was literally the first day since I quit my job several months ago that I didn't have a very pressing deadline or was on the road travelling. So it's been nice to get into a routine and figure out what I need to accomplish the next 3 months before Book 2 of THE 13TH REALITY comes out.

Most important, of course, is Book 3 of that same series. I'm very excited to work on that. Extremely excited. Like, really, really excited. Bumblebees on crack excited. Yeah.

So I headed to Kmart early this morning, like any upstanding young author would do on his first day of stress-free work. I bought the following: 2 mini-packs of Kleenex, a bag of cough drops, a sweet planner/notes portfolio, and the game Othello. I bet no person in the history of Kmart has ever bought that combination before. I'm special.

Yeah, I'm still lingering sickly. Coughing, runny nose. Nothing too bad, but just enough to annoy me. I curse the very first germ that gave birth to the trillions since.

One of our most faithful followers here at the Dashner Dude is worried I didn't get her email telling me how much she liked the Advance Reader Copy of THE HUNT FOR DARK INFINITY. Q, my good friend, I did receive it, and you made my day. I'm so glad you didn't hate it.

I still haven't heard from Krista on my rewrites. Maybe once I do, I won't be so stress free anymore.

Don't forget the big Christmas party at The King's English tonight! It starts at 5:30. And I'll be at Liberty Park tomorrow afternoon doing a thing for Salt Lake City Youth. Apparently Santy Clause is going to give away 200 of my books to children in need. Is that awesome or what?! (For the life of me I can't figure out how his creepy little elves got the rights from my publisher to make those in the NP toy shop. Fascinating stuff.)

Talk to ya soon.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Boohoo, Vacation Over

Dang. How does 2 weeks go by so fast? Tomorrow we head back to the mountains, leaving the trees and hills of Georgia behind. Wow, that was poetic. For me anyway.

We had good times. Well, except for the fact that every single person in my mom's house got sick. Yeah, that was fun. It was one of those nasty cold thingies that just won't go away. I'm finally feeling pretty good today.

Highlights: Seeing family, going to the Coca Cola museum, going to the Etowah Indian Mounds, seeing James Bond, seeing the Lake Lanier Lights, eating food, watching the Falcons win 2 more games, beating my sister-in-law Paige in 3 separate games. But mostly spending time with my mom and the rest of the family. Did I mention food?

Lowlights: Using 246 boxes of Kleenex, 38 bags of cough drops, and watching the stupid yellow jackets beat the mighty Bulldawgs. Oh, the horror.

I should be hearing back from my editor any day on what she thought of the rewrites for MAZE. I'm nervous about it. Very. I'll let you know what she says.

This Thursday night is the big annual Christmas party at The King's English bookstore in Salt Lake City. A lot of wicked cool (my son's been saying that lately--it's very annoying) authors will be there, including, ahem, me. Okay, Shannon Hale will be there, too. Come see us!

I'm excited for the next 3 months. Not a lot of school visits, not a lot of travel. Just plain old, good-fashioned book writing. I also plan to answer a lot of these emails that are stacked up! So stay tuned and don't give up on me......

Hope everyone had a fun Thanksgiving. May the upcoming holidays be filled with lots of joy, food, and Falcons wins. Check back here often in December--I'm gonna be in the blogging mood.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Finished the Maze. Again.

This has been about the 132nd time in my life that I thought I was done with a little book called THE MAZE RUNNER. It's amazing how many loops this story has gone through on its journey to publication. It'll be a fun topic for future writer's conferences.

Anyway, with great relief, I emailed the manuscript to Krista today. I have no doubt that the last 2 weeks have been the most grueling I've ever had in terms of pure nitty gritty working on a book. I'm not asking for pity - I enjoyed it for the most part. But it was intense.

You'd probably be somewhat impressed if someone wrote 15,000 words in 2 weeks. If not, you have an avocado for a brain. But not only did my manuscript increase by 15,000 words, it was done in bits and pieces, here and there as I went through Krista's notes, page by page. No wonder I had a head ache every night!

But I'm really surprised how much I enjoyed doing it. Some days were tougher than others, but the lessons I learned from Krista are just amazing. And the book is much, much better now.

The very first version of MAZE was 68,000 words long. When I turned it into Krista in September, it was 87,000 words. The one I submitted today is 102,000. That means the book is 50% bigger than its original version. That blows me away.

The biggest difference is DEPTH. The basic storyline hasn't changed that much. But the depth of the characters, the depth of the worldbuilding, the depth of the dialogue and scene development, the depth of everything is just more... in depth. How's that for articulatregery? I just made that word up, and yes, you have permission to use it.

Ah, I feel so good. Tomorrow my family and I head off to Georgia for a 2 week vacation with Georgia Grandma and the rest of the Dashner Crime Family. I've sworn off any booky type work unless Krista gets back to me with more revisions, in which case I will abandon my mother and work like a... worker bee. (Mmmm, more good articulatregery. Oh, and just kidding, Mom.) But I think it will be mostly R&R.

Well, I hope all is well, and for your personal safety, I truly hope you are not a turkey this time of year. See ya again soon!

P.S. A big congratulations to my awesome agent, Michael Bourret. He was recently promoted to be the Vice President of his agency, Dystel & Goderich. I'm honored to be his client!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Mmmmm, Rewrites. And Random Thoughts.

Just letting you all know that I'm still alive. THE MAZE RUNNER rewrites are going well, although I know for a fact I've never put so much time into a book before. I think you'll find that it was time well spent.

Krista's notes are exhaustive, thorough, and many. She is one smart lady! To give you some perspective, I'm averaging about 7 pages an hour to go through her notes. I just want to make sure I respond to all her concerns and suggestions to the best of my ability.

Honestly, I don't know how I would've done this if I still had that pesky job!

Random thoughts:

Atlanta Hawks, 5-0. Atlanta Falcons, 6-3. Georgia Bulldogs, 8-2. Life is good in the sports world.

I can't wait to see the new James Bond movie.

Why do you see "No Dumping" signs in public places like graveyards? I don't think the kind of people who would dump their old couch inside a cemetery are going to see the sign and say, "Well, garsh, Mabel, looks like we's best find us another place, dontcha reckon? I hear the swamp's got some space."

If you live in Utah, I'll be at the West Jordan Barnes and Noble on Tuesday night at 6:00 and the Murray Barnes and Noble on Thursday night at 6:00. Come see me!

I love THE OFFICE. Have I ever told you guys that? It's the best thing that's happened to TV since SEINFELD and LOST. Oh, and 24.

These 2 kids come by our house on Saturday and ring the doorbell. They're holding rakes. My front yard had roughly 56,738,492 leaves in it, just a few days after being swept clean. They asked me with a straight face if we'd give them 5 bucks for raking it. They weren't joking. We gave them 10.

I'm rereading THE WHEEL OF TIME in honor of my good friend, Brandon Sanderson. I quit around Book 7 a long time ago because I didn't know if it would ever end and I was sick of waiting. But since he's finishing the series, I'm giving it Shot #2. And I must say, I'm really enjoying them. Very much.

Talk to ya soon.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Another Post!


I thought of another few things to yap about.

First, I'm very excited to announce that my wife and I will finally be witnessing the musical event known as WICKED. It's coming to Salt Lake City, and after almost 3 hours of repeatedly dialing a phone number, my wife got through and scored us some early-release tickets. Can't wait. Ironically, the word WICKED is very important in my upcoming book, THE MAZE RUNNER. No connection.

Second, I put a new Followers thing on the right side of the blog. Check it out and join!

Third, I found the first place you can preorder Book 2. Click on the cover picture to the right and it'll take you there.

Fourth, I've been working so hard this week on my rewrites! And I've still got a long way to go. But I'm amazed at how much better Krista is making this book. I almost feel guilty, like her name should be on the cover with me.

Fifth, I was very excited to wake up this morning to this:

That can only mean that skiiing is not far behind. Have a great day!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Ketchup, or is that Catch Up?

Well, hi there! Thanks for all the emails, phone calls, texts, and comments telling me to shape up and blog. Sorry about the delay - I just felt like I was saying the exact same thing over and over again: I visited some schools, I did a signing, I toured the town. Blah blah blah.

Aren't you guys sick of that yet? No? Aw shucks.

Okay, then. The last couple of weeks, I visited some schools, did some signings, and toured some towns. It was fun. Good enough? Alright, let's play Catch Up.

1. South Carolina was great. I really enjoyed the schools, and I had a good time walking along the beach, finding seashells for my kids, and touring the old town of Charleston. Oddly, I think my favorite moment was watching this huge freighter ship mosey on by through the harbor. For some reason I love huge ships.

2. Idaho was also great! I stayed with my wife's aunt and uncle for a couple of days, and got to feed their cows and chickens. I also loved hearing and watching the trains go by in the distance - there were a lot of them. And, of course, the schools were awesome as usual. And did you know that Idaho Falls is called Idaho Falls because of really cool waterfalls? Brillliant! (And beautiful)

3. I'm mostly done with the Fall edition of the Change the World Tour, and man oh man, I'm relieved. As much as I love those kids, seeing new places, yada yada yada, the Dashner Dude's brain is spent! It's very emotionally and mentally draining to be so chipper for so long. I'm anxious and excited to get back to what I do best: write books. Good thing, because.....

4. Last Thursday I received my editorial comments from Krista Marino, my editor for THE MAZE RUNNER. Woo boy! Do I have a lot of work to do. Nothing too major, but a lot of little things that are going to make this book much, much better. I already suspected this, but Krista is a genius, and EXTREMELY thorough. I'm not in the least but surprised she's a senior editor at Random House. Wow.

5. I don't really think you're supposed to see this, but . . . hey, it's on the world wide web, what can ya do? The guy who did the artwork for the cover for THE MAZE RUNNER has put it on his website. His name is Philip Straub, and he does amazing digital stuff (more apt for the teen crowd). Wanna see what's gonna be on the cover? Well, then quit sittin' there like a wart on a toadie and CLICK HERE. Isn't it awesome! He nailed the feel of the book itself. I love it.

6. Halloween was once again a success - my kids got ridiculous amounts of free candy from complete strangers. My wife claims it's been proven that sugar doesn't make kids hyperactive. Yah. I believe that one.

7. Today is Election Day. Go and vote!!!!! And don't ever, ever be ashamed of who you choose or what you vote for, as long as you believe it's the right choice. Ain't America great?

8. My Dawgs got blistered and whooped on by the hated, despised, horrible, terrible, monstrous, grotesque, ugly, stupid, stupid, stupid Florida Gators. I'm in deep mourning. But at least my Falcons are doing awesome, with the best rookie QB since Peyton Manning. It's a done deal, folks: NFL Rookie of the Year 2008 is Matt Ryan.

9. My agent is awesome. Have I said that recently? Well, he is. So there.

10. So let's hear it from those people who got ARCs of 13TH REALITY BOOK 2! Did you like it? Is it better than Book 1? Let us know. And I do have a few more to give away.....

Well, it's good to be back. I hope all is well in your neck of the woods, and we'll talk again soon.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Dead People and Drummers

Well, still having fun in New England, but it's off to South Carolina tomorrow. This East Coast swing definitely has history written all over it - I'll be in the Charleston area. Can't wait!

Thanks to these schools in Mass: Millis Middle School and Milford Catholic Elementary. Had a great time. It was also great to see Gail "Irisheyz" from Library Thing - one of the very first readers of THE JOURNAL OF CURIOUS LETTERS. Thanks for hanging out with me!

Due to some scheduling blips, I ended up having lots of time to explore. I spent an entire day in Salem and an entire day in Boston. I can only imagine how many miles I walked, and my poor little feet hurt. But it was really awesome.

Here are some pictures. Sorry for my obsession with graveyards, but I was in hog heaven seeing such old cemeteries. I can't believe how creepy the tombstones were back then! Also, those Boston street performing drummers on the bottom - seriously one of the Top Ten Coolest Things I've ever witnessed. Simply amazing - I didn't want to leave them.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I love New England

A big thanks to the schools I've visited so far: Greenland School, Barrington Middle School, Woodbury School, and North Salem Elementary. You guys were all awesome!

Two or three schools cancelled. The Barnes and Noble CRM told me one of the librarians said she didn't want to be "bothered by that." I wonder what that lady will think when I'm one of the biggest authors in the country? (boo yah!) I just feel bad for the kids - we always have a ton of fun at my assembly.

I have today off to drive to Massachusetts (and a school cancelled). I think I'll go to Salem first and hang out with witches.

Speaking of Salem, I was in Salem, NH last night. The one night in the history of my life that I have a book signing in Salem, NH and it's the night Sarah Palin picks to rally in the same town. Well, no offense to her, but I didn't do so bad myself! Thanks to all those who chose me over her. :-)

Graveyard, New England, Autumn. Bliss.

A real lighthouse!

My feet, glorious leaves.

America's Stonehenge. Amazing. Google it.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

New Hampshire is Beautiful

What else can I say? It's absolutely perfect here. I might move.

The trees, the leaves changing, the cool, crisp air, the architecture, the history. Ahhhhh......

I'll try to get some pictures up this week. If you live around here, or in Massachusetts, be sure and check for a schedule of my signings this week. I'd love to meet you!

Yesterday, my editor at Delacorte (Krista Marino) sent me the initial cover for THE MAZE RUNNER (Fall 2009). I can't show it yet, because it's not finalized, but I LOVE IT!!!!!!! It's so cool, and so different from my other stuff (it's YA instead of middle grade). You guys are going to flip when you see it.

In the meantime, check out the cover for THE HUNT FOR DARK INFINITY (scroll down on the blog) coming in March 2009. You ARC winners let us know in the comments when you receive it so I can know.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The ARCs are here!

And they are beautiful little suckers. They'll be put in the mail today for those of you who won the Dashner Dude first anniversary contest. Let me know if you don't get them in the next few days.

For our newest visitors, ARC stands for Advance Reader Copy, and I just received them for Book 2 of THE 13TH REALITY. The hardback comes out in March (see countdown on the right side of the blog).

In case you missed it, check out the cover! CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The 13th Reality, Book 2: The Hunt for Dark Infinity

EDIT: For some reason when I post the cover, it looks a little fuzzy and messed up. I'll try to get a better version soon. But you get the general idea.

The letters are just white in this picture, and a couple things will change, but this is basically the cover. (Artist: Bryan Beus, firmly entrenched in my Top 20 Favorite People)

I'm very, very, very curious at your reaction. Please tell me what you think!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Stupid Hurricane Ike and Other Inspiring Stories

Wow. I'm pretty sure my week in the Houston area was the most mentally draining few days I've ever had. Lots of driving, lots of traffic, lots of schools, lots of hurricane-caused scheduling changes and an event every single evening.

But it all went great.

Thanks to all the schools in the Humble, Sugar Land, Pasadena, and Pearland areas, as well as the folks at the Barbara Bush Library. And a big thanks to everyone at the different Barnes and Nobles.

I don't really know what to report exactly. So much was packed into the week that it seems like last Sunday was several months ago. Two shout-outs I really want to give are to my good friend Tami Norton and the librarian at Wessendorf Middle School, Donna Anderson. Tami graciously hosted me for a couple days, and I had a good time getting to know her family (and you, too, Sunbum!).

And then there was Donna. This lady immediately treated me like her long-lost nephew, making me feel more welcome at her school than I ever have in my life. She and her husband Bill insisted on taking me out to dinner, and we had lots of fun. If every school had a Donna Anderson, our future would be in excellent shape.

It's amazing the range of emotions I go through while out on tour. It may be hard for you to believe, but it's very grueling and is most definitely not all fun and games. Yes, I know all of you aspiring authors would LOVE to have any problems I may encounter while out and about, but you'll understand when you get there.

The biggest challenge is to make sure each young person gets my full attention at the signings. It's tempting to hurry things up, get through it, sign and get out, go to bed. But I try so hard not to. Each one of them is an individual, and this may be their only chance to meet an author face to face. I try so hard to make it a special experience for them, an inspiring few moments they'll never forget.

All in all, it's a lot of fun. And I can't tell you how rewarding it can be. Google Alerts showed me today the following blog post that gives you a good example of why every minute of hard work is worth it. The airplanes, the hotels, the driving, the traffic, the lack of sleep, the writing, revising, editing, presenting, all of it. It's all worth it when I see blogs like this and read the inevitable emails.

I hope they don't mind my sharing. Check it out: CLICK HERE.

Thanks, Chloe, and others like you, for helping me remember why I love my job so much.

Now, this post is dangerously close to Cheeseville. But for some reason I had a tough time in Houston in terms of the workload and being away from home. And I wanted to share.

This week I'm doing two days of schools in Orem, Utah with my friend and fellow author, Brandon Sanderson. We're doing an experiment to see how it goes when we both do it together. Brandon's second book in the Alcatraz series just came out from Scholastic. (And yes, he's also the dude writing the final book in the Wheel of Time series.)

If you live in the area, we'll be at the Orem Barnes and Noble on Tuesday night, from 5 to 7ish.

Have a great week!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Quick Hello

Hi guys. I know I've been quiet, but I'm having a hard time finding spare time. This is an extremely intense first 2 weeks of the tour. I'm either driving, flying, speaking, or signing. Sometimes sleeping. But it's fun.

One last quick thing on California, and then next time I'll tell you about where I am currently: Houston, TX.

Joel Harris of Clayon Books treated me like royalty my last 2 days last week. And to top it all off, he took me to the Giants-Dodgers game. And to top THAT all off, he informs me his son is a bat boy and that we get to visit the Dodgers' locker room after the game.

Well, we had to wait until the players were gone, so it's not like I met anyone (though I did see Rafael Furcal, a former Brave.) But I got to help Andy and the other bat boys do the laundry for the Dodgers!

Now, yes, of course, I am an Atlanta fan and despise the Dodgers, so I tried to focus my excitement on former Braves. Hence the picture of Greg Maddux's locker and myself hanging Joe Torre's jersey (he managed the Braves in the early 80s). Only very disturbed people could get excited about folding jockstraps and hanging still-wet jerseys out of the wash. There you have it.

Joel, Christy, and Vinitha, thank you for a wonderful couple of days.

Last night we had a huge signing in Humble, TX, and it's a lot more to go this week. Until next time, may your days be filled with smiley people and lots of reading time.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I'm so NoCal

James Dashner here, reporting live from Northern California. I've been having a good ole time here, lovin' every minute of it. And believe it or not, I actually took pictures (which you've figured out by now)! Mom, get up off the floor.

I spent Monday taking all of your advice, being as big a tourist as possible in the San Francisco area. The Golden Gate Bridge, Pier 39, Fisherman's Wharf, street performers, fresh seafood, etc. And talk about perfect weather. I'm definitely coming back here with my wife. No doubt.

The last two days have been nonstop. Yesterday, I was lucky enough to hang out with the students from Foster City Elementary, Immaculate Heart of Mary School, Crestmoor Elementary, and Central Elementary, followed by an awesome signing at Barnes and Noble in San Mateo.

Then today it was off to Warwick Elementary, Kitayama Elementary, and Brookvale Elementary, followed by an awesome signing at Borders in Union City.

Wow. I forgot how fun and brain-draining it is to do these signings. I love it, love meeting the kids, love seeing them get excited about reading. I can't think of a more rewarding job. To all you students, teachers, principals, librarians, etc.: THANK YOU. And the icing on the cake: we sold a lot of books.

My only glitches of the day were being late for Warwick Elem. and calling a kid (named Noah) Moses. (okay, that second one was on purpose)

The next couple of days will be spent in the Walnut Creek and Clayton areas. The amazing Joel Harris of Clayton Books is in charge, and he's working me to the bone. But I get a prize - he's taking me to the Giants-Dodgers game on Friday night! Yeah!

In other news, I'm really tired. Good night.

Friday, September 19, 2008

San Francisco, Here I Come

This is my last work day before the Fall 2008 Edition of the Change the World Tour kicks off in the San Francisco area. I'll be there all of next week, and then it's off to Houston, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, North and South Carolina, Utah, and Idaho. Six weeks in all, dozens of schools, probably 25,000 students spoken to, lots of signings. I can't wait!

For the schedule of book signings, go to and click on "Tour Dates." I'll be blogging regularly from the road, so be sure and check in.

I'm really excited about San Francisco, having never been there. I'll actually have most of Monday to explore, so please, anyone, give me some advice on what I should check out. I've always wanted to go to Alcatraz...

Last time I asked about Halloween, whether you loved it or loathed it. Here's my answer: I LOVE it! Now, the Dashner Dude doesn't dress up, mind you. I hate dressing up. But I love seeing the kids dressed up, giving out candy, taking my own kids around the neighborhood, the weather, the decorations, the jack-o-lanterns, the smell of pumpkins burning from candles, my wife's special recipe for cooked pumpkin seeds, creepy music, yada yada yada. I love it all.

October is one of my favorite months, topped only by November and December.

Today I'm having lunch with the woman who changed my life forever. Okay, that sounds a bit dramatic, but she did! Honestly. Go back and read about it in one of my old posts. Stacy Whitman, Editor Extraordinaire. Her editorial feedback on THE MAZE RUNNER was brilliant, and it never would've made it to SOLD! without her. She's freelancing now, so I strongly urge you to contact her and seek her help.

I don't know if I can give out her email address - I'll ask her today. In the meantime, email me and I'll tell you how to contact her.

J. Scott Savage (check out his amazing FARWORLD website) and Sara Zarr (who just turned in her manuscript!!!!) are also joining us, so it's gonna be good times. Ya know, the only thing better than being an author is being friends with other authors. We're a strange breed.

Well, have a great weekend, and be sure to watch plenty of football. It makes the world a happier place. Note: Hopefully I'll be showing you some covers very soon..... Oh, and the Advance Reader Copies of THE HUNT FOR DARK INFINITY went to press today!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A Day in the Life of an Author

Thanks for all the nice comments on my posting of the workshop notes from last week's LUW conference. (If you missed it, check out the previous post.) Stacy Whitman, editor extraordinaire, pointed out that many editors hate semicolons. Guess I'll find out soon how Krista at Delacorte feels! For some reason I like them.

Yesterday my wife asked me to take a day off to get some things done. I, being the incredible husband that I am, agreed. Why am I telling you this? I have no idea.

Today it was back to work. I got an email from Krista this morning with her first crack at the "Cover Copy" for THE MAZE RUNNER, which is the little blurb you'd see on the inside jacket flap or back of the book. This was thrilling to me, I don't know why. I really liked it, but gave her some feedback. She changed it a bit and now it's pretty much ready to go.

The reason she's doing it is in preparation for officially introducing the Fall 2009 lineup to the publicity and marketing folks at Random House. This gave me chills. Also, she told me they're working on the cover and I might see something very soon.

I don't know if my brain can handle seeing 2 covers for 2 books so close together. It's going to be so interesting to see how much of a different feel it has, considering it's for an older audience than my 13th Reality books. I can't wait!!!

Also today - my other editor, Lisa at Shadow Mountain, asked me to write a cover letter they plan to include in the front of the advance copy for 13th Reality 2. And she was so nice to give me a WHOLE day to get it done. Nah, it was easy. I just hope it doesn't make me sound like an idiot. (hold the jokes)

I also spent today running, eating, brainstorming on 13th Book 3, and answering some very old emails. All while hanging at the SLC library with my writing posse: Sara Zarr, Anne Bowen, and Emily Wing Smith (well, not the running part). I'll spare you the details of our very interesting lunch conversation. Let's just say the word "gas" was used frequently.

Completely Random Question of the Day: Do you love or loathe Halloween (coming soon!)? I'll reveal my answer next time.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

20 Things I've Learned Since Getting Published

Dear Fellow Americans. Actually, blogs are international, huh? So, scratch that. Dear Fellow Earthlings:

THE MAZE RUNNER has been turned into my editor, the wonderful Krista Marino. 2 months of hard work is complete. I am a very relieved and happy man.

I won't have much of a break - I leave for San Francisco next Monday to start 6 straight weeks of touring the country. I also need to begin working right away on THE 13TH REALITY Book 3. As well as a proposal for my next book with Random House. But for now, I shall breathe.

This past weekend at the annual League of Utah Writers conference was AMAZING. I'll blog more about it later, but it was easily one of the best conferences I've ever been to. I had such a fun time and felt so welcome. To all those responsible, a very hearty THANK YOU.

For now, I will post the brief notes from my workshop presentation and then go to bed. Thanks to all those who requested it in the comments. Well, here you are! Remember that I did a lot of expounding on these topics, and they're kinda random, but it's the best I can do without coming to your house and terrorizing your entire family. (The formatting is kind of weird, hope it looks okay.)

1. Differentiate your characters.
o Know their background.
o Think of something horrible that happened in their past.
o Something that makes them happy when they remember it.
o Give them a dirty secret.
o Make sure all your main characters don’t sound exactly the same!

2. Plot – at least a little.
o I challenge you to know how it ends before you begin. It will make all the difference in the world.
o This doesn’t mean you should be stagnant. Anything goes—you can change whatever you want, whenever you want. But start with a path.

3. Always think about the Five Senses when describing a place.
o Don’t forget smells!

4. Avoid one-dimensional villains.
o Create empathy for them.
o Make the reader feel somewhat guilty for hating the villain.

5. Try to eliminate as much of these as possible:
o That
Bad: He knew that he needed to kill her.
Good: He knew he needed to kill her.
o Was xx-ing
Bad: He was standing in the road, glaring at me.
Good: He stood in the road, glaring at me.
o Would
Bad: Every few seconds, a blade would pop out of the robot’s chest.
Good: Every few seconds, a blade popped out of the robot’s chest.
o Seem
Bad: Everything about him seemed to be hard and cold.
Good: Everything about him was hard and cold.
o Same word close together

6. Semicolons. I love semicolons!
o Okay: His back struck a hard metal wall. He slid along it until he hit the corner of the room.
o Better: His back struck a hard metal wall; he slid along it until he hit the corner of the room.

7. Chapter structure can do wonders.
o Short, but not too short. My rule of thumb: 1500-2500 words.
o Intriguing endings, but don’t do cheap tricks.
Bad: She opened the door and gasped.
Good: She opened the door and gasped. There, lying in a pool of dark liquid, sat a lumpy bag with her name scrawled across the front.

8. First lines. You must have an awesome first line. First page. You must have an awesome first page.

9. Set writing goals and track yourself. Be nerdy about it.

10. Dialogue. Read it out loud. Have focus groups read it. Make sure it sounds natural and true to each individual character. Use dialects if it makes sense. Maybe a character has a quirky word or phrase or way of speaking. But no matter what, your dialogue must be strong.

11. Take your time. Develop things. Describe things. Give lots of internal thoughts. Envelop the reader in a journey, not just a step by step narrative.

12. Be original in your similes and metaphors, and use lots of them. As you go through the day, look for things that make an impression on you, write them down, then use them in your writing.

13. Read like crazy – don’t let writing lessen your time reading, AT ALL. I’ve learned more from reading Stephen King than any class or workshop I’ve ever taken.

14. Do research or people will catch you.

15. Story. It’s all about story. Make it compelling, make it exciting, make it terrifying, make it full of conflict. Have your characters suffer sacrifices before they win. Have surprises and plot twists. The writing will come, and should always improve. But first and foremost, make sure you have an AWESOME story.

16. Be creative in how you create mysteries. Even simple events and revelations can be tweaked to turn them into mini mysteries that help intrigue the reader and keep them moving through the story.
o Mom’s revelation in Book 2. Cool, but I made it better. Added scene in beginning where she runs toward Tick, saying she has to tell him something. Revelation comes at end.

17. Avoid cliché like the plague (get it?). Don’t write a book about a farm boy in a fantasy land trying to obtain a magical object to save the kingdom. Just don’t do it. Come up with something the world has never seen before. Not an original idea, per se, but your own twist to it.

18. Rewriting. It takes work. A first draft is not publishable. Neither is a second draft. Maybe not even a third. You have to devote yourself to working hard on revisions if you want to make it.

19. Don’t write the same way you’d tell a bedtime story. It’s totally different.
o Avoid: this happened, then this happened, then this happened…
o Write cinematically.

20. Make your characters strong. Act, instead of react.
o However, give them flaws. Make them do things that will cause the reader to dislike them momentarily.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Do you wanna read my boring junk?

Just a quick note to say I'm off to League of Utah Writer's annual Roundup writing conference. I wish all of you could come - it's gonna be good times. I'm sure most of you will just happen to be in Ogden, Utah anyway this weekend, so stop on by!

The class I'm teaching is called "20 Things I've Learned Since First Getting Published." If anyone is interested, I could post the content of this workshop sometime next week. However, I shan't be so presumptous to assume you guys wanna read my boring junk. So let me know.

The only painful thing about tomorrow is I'll miss the Georgia-South Carolina game, and there's no way I can avoid hearing the score before I get back home and watch it on the DVR. Maybe I'll have my eardrums removed. Oh, and my eyes. Really not practical, actually.

Due to high demand (one person asked me about it), I may resurrect my old thing of posting lyrics of the day. Maybe. Here's a line that's kinda weird, but for some reason I just really like it:

Last time you were here,
Couldn't look you in the eye.
You're just like an angel,
Your skin makes me cry.

- Radiohead

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

As Promised

Ha! I TOLD you I'd blog on Wednesday. If I only had something to talk about...

I appreciate all the nice comments from last time - about you guys preferring me working on my books instead of neglecting them and blogging. Well, I'll try to keep doing both. I like having this connection with my readers and friends.

I'm getting to the point where my brain is fried on THE MAZE RUNNER. I've read the stupid thing a million times, and I'm going through feedback comments, which just start driving you batty. It becomes so subjective, and often the cost/benefit ratio just isn't worth it on a lot of the changes. But on the other hand, it's hard to ignore advice, even if it would only make it a teensy tinsy bit better.

Starts to drive me crazy. But don't get me wrong, I REALLY appreciate it and would never choose not to do it. Plus, the end product wouldn't be as sweet if I didn't have to struggle a bit, right?

I LOVE writing the first draft. Love it, love it, love it. But revisions really start to wear me down after awhile.

Am I complaining? Yes, I think I'm complaining. Bad James. Be thankful for what you have and quit whining. I am ashamed. I'll keep working diligently until I can whip this thing to my editor on Monday. It's almost here!

J. Scott Savage, otherwise known as Jeff, took me and our mutual editor, Lisa Mangum, out to lunch today. It was so much fun! All we did was talk shop, and it was great. I came up with some AWESOME ideas for Book 3 of THE 13TH REALITY. Can't wait to get working on that. I plan on relaxing next week and playing around with that book. It's gonna be good times.

Speaking of Savage, his book will FINALLY be out, officially, on Friday. It's already in many stores. I'm going to do a full blog post on it next week, but in the meantime, you gotta check it out. VERY GOOD BOOK. It's called FARWORLD: WATER KEEP, and Jeff is having a release party in Spanish Fork Utah this Saturday afternoon. For more information, CLICK HERE.

I hope some of you are coming to LUW Roundup this weekend. I'm teaching a class (twice) called "20 things I've learned since first getting published." I might even throw in a bonus Number 21. Don't miss it!

Well, not much else to say. Be good, and don't be mean to people.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Catch Up

I am such a liar.

I think it was only 2 weeks ago that I promised I'd update the blog three times a week, and then boom, I only did it once last week. I am ashamed. The good news is I worked my tail off and things are coming along nicely. Here are some random things to catch up:

1. I saw a preliminary version of the cover for THE HUNT FOR DARK INFINITY today, and let me just say this: yeah boy. It's awesome. I love it. I'm hoping to reveal it to the world sometime next week, so stay tuned. Bryan Beus, you are Da Man.

2. Our Grand Prize winner, JN Future Author, has already read THE MAZE RUNNER and returned his feedback to me. It must've been fate to pick someone so willing and eager! I don't think he'd mind me telling you that he said it's definitely one of the Top 5 books he's ever read, and he's read many, many books. This really made my day.

3. The Falcons won yesterday, in spectacular fashion. Matt Ryan threw a touchdown on his first ever NFL pass and Michael Turner ran for 220 yards and 2 TDs. Giddyup.

4. Once again, I have failed you in keeping up my events calendar. I have to figure out a better way of doing this! Anyway, I'm very excited to be a guest at the annual League of Utah Writers Roundup Conference this weekend in Ogden UT. I'm teaching 2 workshops, sitting on a panel, and - I'm very excited about this - I get to be the MC of the awards dinner on Saturday night. It's gonna be fun! For more information, CLICK HERE.

5. My full schedule so far is posted at, but here's a quickie version of where I will be on this fall's version of The Change the World Tour:

Sept 22-26: San Francisco

Sept 29-Oct 3: Houston

Oct 6-7: Orem UT

Oct 13-18: New Hampshire and Massachusetts

Oct. 20-24: North and South Carolina

Oct. 27-30: Idaho

Dec. 1-2: Atlanta

I'll be visiting lots of schools and doing many signings, so please come see me!

6. THE MAZE RUNNER is due exactly one week from today. I'm spending this week going through some feedback and touching up a few scenes I don't feel entirely good about yet. But I feel like it's almost there, and I'll definitely be ready to send it to my editor next Monday. Let us all pray she doesn't hate it.

7. I may have some great news soon. How's that for vague? Stay tuned.

8. If anyone thinks I'm neglecting you, I'm very sorry. This has been the most intense 2 or 3 weeks of my author career, but it'll be over soon.

9. Speaking of, I've also been reviewing the first pass pages, galleys, typeset pages, whatever you call it, for 13th Reality 2. That's due on Wednesday. Hey, that book's not half bad!

10. I consumed the single largest hot dog ever created by man tonight. My neighbor grilled up some dogs that looked like lumber, dwarfing the buns my wife purchased. I'm pretty sure I shaved 7 months off my life by eating the whole thing.

Talk to ya Wednesday! (I hope)

Monday, September 1, 2008

Grand Prize Winner

The moment we've all been waiting for.....

Our Grand Prize winner from the One Year Anniversary of The Dashner Dude is.....

JN Future Author

Shoot me an email. Congrats!

As for me, I'm not going to say much else today. I think everyone's out partying for Labor Day.

THE MAZE RUNNER is due two weeks from today. Wish me luck.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Day 5 Winner

The winner of an ARC for our fifth and last day is... Cheryl! Congrats, and don't forget to email me your address.

For the five winners of the ARCS, remember to look for it in late November (sorry, they won't be printed until then). If you don't receive it by December 1st, please send me another email. It should come directly from my publisher.

Monday I'll announce the winner of the Grand Prize.

Someone asked how I've been picking winners. Just randomly. I didn't have the heart to try and judge who had the best entry. It's been very hard to know that so many of you wanted an ARC but didn't win. I'm sorry! I promise there will be other ways to get one. Stay tuned.

I can tell you this, I've really enjoyed reading all the comments this week - close to 200! I loved the funny stuff, the inspiring stuff, and the smart stuff. I have some awesome blog readers, and I appreciate you hanging out with me. Don't ever leave me. I'd be very sad.


Friday, August 29, 2008

Happy Anniversary Dude, Day 5

Thanks for all the heartfelt comments yesterday! Goodness gracious alive mercy may, you are an inspired people! I really enjoyed reading them all.

And yesterday's winner is... Q! Yes, it is a letter of the alphabet, and the name of some dude on Star Trek, but it is also our fourth winner of an advanced copy of THE HUNT FOR DARK INFINITY. Congrats!

Today is the final day of the anniversary contest. I'll announce the daily winner tomorrow, and then the Grand Prize winner on Monday. Not a lot of people visit blogs on Sunday, at least from what I've noticed. For the rules, CLICK HERE.

Okay, I'll make it real easy on you today. In fact, I'm very curious to see what this brings about: I want you to comment on something. That's it.

Have at it!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Happy Anniversary, Dude: Day 4

Okay, short and sweet today.

Yesterday's winner . . . is Kennen. Congratulations! Shoot me an email. I've actually met Kennen, and he's a stud.

Two more days, plus the Grand Prize. For contest rules, CLICK HERE.

I hope I didn't mortally offend anyone yesterday with my potty humor. I humbly apologize for having never grown up.

Today I'm going to make it easier on you. Today is a day for inspiration. Please tell us in the comments, using only one sentence, about someone who has greatly inspired you and why.

As for me, I'm inspired by my mom and the reason is simple - she is the only person I've ever known who is truly and completely and utterly selfless.

Have at it!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Happy Anniversary, Dude: Day 3

Ah, man. I have to tell ya, there were some gems yesterday. Gold, Jerry, Gold! I really, really enjoyed reading everyone's pitches. Thanks for sharing your ideas - I've already sent a couple of new proposals to my agent. Ha ha, I'm funny.

Okay, the winner of Day Two is... Karen Pellett. Congrats! (For those of you just joining us, read the official rules: CLICK HERE. Remember that all 5 days are included in the drawing for the Grand Prize, so it's never too late to enter each day.

By the way, the winners need to email me their mailing address. You can reach me here: authornonsense AT nonsensejamesdashner DOT com. Take out the nonsense and you'll have my email address. (ah, sometimes my cleverness amazes even me)

Hey, today is the day! Today is the actual day of the anniversary. August 27. One year ago I began The Dashner Dude. You should go back and read that post. It was really stupid.

Okay, on to today's topic. I especially enjoyed the ones that made me laugh yesterday (hence the really lame picture), so I want more of that. Today's assignment is easy: Write the silliest sentence you can possibly come up with. If you don't know how to be silly, that's okay, because your weak attempt will end up being just as funny. You can do it!

Here's mine:

Winky stinky pinky, bing bong boo, I love to eat gravy, but not on poo.

Have at it!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Happy Anniversary, Dude: Day 2

Okay, we have our first winner, chosen in random fashion by my own son. And the winner is Kimberly! Hopefully there is much rejoicing in the frozen wastelands of Canada (just kidding, I love the place).

I'm starting to feel bad that we'll only have a few winners. This morning made me feel like we chose over thirty losers instead of one winner. Oh well. Sorry. I promise I'll do something else when the actual ARCs come out in November.

Okay, time for our next topic for the comments. Kimberly, remember that you are still eligible for the Grand Prize, so you can keep entering. For complete rules, CLICK HERE.

Today I'd like you to share a one-sentence idea for a book. Or a movie. Or a play. Or a ballet. Whatever. This is often called your pitch, and I really love it when it can be condensed to one short sentence. You don't have to be a writer to do this! And don't worry, I won't steal it. I already have 1,734,962 ideas in my head. If you can't think of anything new, give a pitch for your favorite book or movie. You can do it.

Today's example: Brandon Mull has a picture book coming out, and his pitch was simple: It's about a boy's imaginary friend becoming his imaginary enemy.

Have at it!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Happy Anniversary, Dude: Day 1

This week marks one year since I first posted on The Dashner Dude, named in honor of my great-great-grandfather, who wrote a weekly newspaper article in South Carolina under the name Grandpa Dude.

To celebrate, we're going to have 5 days of giveaways. Sorry, no cruises, no cars, no money. Just boring old books, and one grand prize.

The Rules:

Each day this week, I will throw out some kind of a thingamajig for which you'll need to leave a comment to enter the contest. Each day will have a winner. Then, at the end of the week, I will choose one grand prize winner. You can comment each day, making your name 5 times more likely to win the grand prize. Pretty simple.

The prizes:

Daily Winner: An Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of THE HUNT FOR DARK INFINITY, Book 2 of THE 13TH REALITY. These will be available in November, and it means you'll get to read it several months before everyone else.

Grand Prize: You'll also receive an ARC in November, plus you'll be sent a copy of THE MAZE RUNNER next week, for which I'll seek your feedback. This means your name will be in the acknowledgements section of the final book, to be published by Random House in Fall 2009. It also means I'll get your help. See how selfish I am?

Any questions? 5 daily winners, 1 grand prize winner, 6 total winners. The daily winners will be eligible for the grand prize. If one of them wins it, I'll give out another ARC to someone, so that 6 go out for sure. Make sense?

Okay, today's topic for the comments: You see all the time these contests for bad first lines of books. So funny, hardy har har. For mine, I want GOOD ones. If you are a writer, give us the first line (not necessarily just one sentence, but what you consider your opening punch) of something you've written. If you're a reader, give us one from a favorite book of yours. If you're neither, post a picture of you dressed up like Abe Lincoln in a clown suit.

Here's mine to start us off, the opening line of THE MAZE RUNNER (as it currently stands, bet it changes):

The boy began his new life standing up, surrounded by cold darkness and stale, dusty air. Things got worse.

Have at it!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Join us next week!

It hit me yesterday that I really have only 3 weeks until I have to turn in THE MAZE RUNNER. Yowza. I'm at the League of Utah Writer's conference (Roundup) on Sept 12th and 13th, so I'd really like to turn it in before I go to that.

That's 3 weeks from today! Exciting and scary at the same time.

Someone asked me yesterday if I was going to turn it in on time. At first I didn't even comprehend the question. Seriously, I hesitated, had to think about it. It's kind of like asking someone if they're going to attend the first day of school, or shower sometime next week. The answer is obvious.

OF COURSE I'm going to turn it in on time. I don't see how there's an option. To be honest, I'm not that worried. I feel very good about the first draft, and if I just work my tail off for 3 weeks, it'll be ready. (Even though previously I've always spent at least 2 months revising and editing.)

Having said that, you may think I'm an irresponsible dong for doing what I'm doing today and tomorrow. Me and "The Fellas" are going on our annual getaway (called The Chiefer Open if you must know) where we golf 18 today, spend the night at my friend Bryan's cabin, then golf 18 tomorrow. Then I have to rush to Shannon Hale's release party tomorrow afternoon.

Maybe I should work on the book instead? Nah. If people knew how much fun we had at the Chiefer Open, it'd become an international phenomenon with a waiting list a mile long. I will miss my family tonight - but who knows, maybe they're excited to get rid of me. If I find abandoned party favors in the corner when I get back......

I just realized this blog post is about absolutely nothing. Sorry.

Anyway, I'm going to make it up to you next week, where we're going to celebrate the one year anniversary of The Dashner Dude in style. I won't do long posts because of the deadline, but I'm going to do lots of them, and have giveaways, some of which will be signed books. I'm also going to do something interesting with THE MAZE RUNNER........

So stay tuned to find out. And join the party.

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

One Small Step for Mankind, One Giant Leap for James

It is El Completo.

THE MAZE RUNNER, first draft. Complete.

I struggled a lot with the ending. A lot. I knew how it ended, but putting it together was probably the most difficult time I've ever had in my writing career. I added something that was hard to write, and much deeper than anything I've ever done before. Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if my editor makes me change it. It's brutal and taints the "happy" ending.

But after much turmoil, I decided this story needed it very badly. And somehow I wrote it. I'm kind of terrified to read it again, scared it might be a 9 on the old suckage scale. We shall see.

I'm surprised actually. I've always felt an extreme amount of elation when completing the first draft. Not as much this time. It's kind of a muted relief. Sometimes I think this book is too big for me, that I should stick to lighter fare. People, I really, really, really hope this book doesn't stink. I want this story to be fun, intriguing, fast-paced, exciting. The usual. But I also want it to leave the reader with an impression, leave them thinking long after shutting it.

We'll see. I have almost a month to work it to death, to make it better. We'll see.

Hope all is well out there. You'll notice I responded in the comments, something I'd kind of slacked on. No more! I'm superhuman blogger dude! I love getting your comments.

We're a week away from the Dashner Dude one-year anniversary. There'll be much celebrating, and maybe even a very special giveaway. Stay tuned. I may even post a picture of me in a speedo. Or maybe not.

Don't forget the big event this Saturday for Shannon Hale's new book, RAPUNZEL'S REVENGE. It'll be fun. For more info, see the prior post.

Time to get busy on Draft #2.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Almost Done and Two Events THIS WEEK

I was very tempted to hold off on posting until I could officially declare that my first draft of THE MAZE RUNNER was complete. But I've held off too long on posting, so I'm taking a break to say howdy do.

Last week was incredible. If there was any doubt before (and there wasn't), it's now certain. I'm going to love being a full time author. I worked my tail off every day, breaking the long-standing record of words-in-a-week-by-a-Dashner. Not quiet as impressive as what Michael Phelps has done, but I think you'd agree, it's pretty close.

25,000 words. And that includes having to take time off to work on my acknowledgements, dedication, discussion questions, and glossary for THE HUNT FOR DARK INFINITY, Book 2 of THE 13TH REALITY. I should be seeing galleys of that book by the second week of September!

Still having fun watching the Olympics when I can. I don't think I need to say anything more about Phelps. I'll tell you what blew me away--watching Usain Bolt in the 100M. Holy cow. That was ridiculous. I did get a little misty-eyed watching the US take gold-silver in the women's gymnastics all-around. That was cool.

I have TWO events this week, and I've totally been an idiot and forgotten to tell anyone about them. The first one is tomorrow, TUESDAY, at 1:30 at the BYU Bookstore in Provo UT. It's part of their Education Week, and I'll be there a couple of hours. I'm not speaking at any schools beforehand, so it should be a good time to come talk to me if you have questions or anything. Come see me. Don't make me beg.

Also, and this one I'm very excited about and honored to be a part of: this SATURDAY is the big release party of Shannon Hale's RAPUNZEL'S REVENGE (co-written by her husband Dean and illustrated by Nathan Hale (no relation)). It's a very cool graphic novel. Very cool.

The event is from 1:00 to 5:00 at the Anderson Foothills Library in SLC UT. The address is 2100 East and 1200 South, or thereabouts. Google it. It'll start off with a panel with all the participating authors then there'll be readings, signings (including my books), a bluegrass band, dancing cowboys, all kinds of goodies. Sara Zarr, Jessica Day George, Ann Cannon, and some others will be there as well.

It's all put on by The King's English, the coolest bookstore in all the land. If you don't come, you are a loser. Unless you have a legitimate excuse, like vicious dog bites or you live in a different country.

People, can't you just SMELL autumn on the wind? It's just peaking around that hot, wilting corner of summer, and I'm so excited I can hardly stand it. The other night it really cooled off, and I felt like I should be dressed for Halloween, cooking a turkey, and watching Monday Night Football, all while wrapping Christmas presents. September through December. Best 4 months of the year, without question. Bring it on!

Let's see, what else. My new goal is to post on the blog three times a week. I should be able to do it now that I'm full time. Last week was an exception because I really wanted to devote every second to moving MAZE as far along as possible. And I also promise to be better about responding to comments and emails. This blog and those of you who read it are very important to me!

Do you realize that the one-year anniversary of THE DASHNER DUDE is in exactly ten days? If anyone has a good idea on how we should celebrate it, let me know in the comments. Our readership has grown at a steady pace, and I hope it continues. Thanks to all of you who hang out here once or twice a week. I really love getting comments, so keep 'em coming.

Clint Johnson asked if my words goal last week was all NEW material. The honest answer is no, there were significant sections in which I was technically rewriting/revising. However, I bet I changed at least 80 percent of it, so in some ways it was even more difficult than creating brand new material.

Let me tell you. My dialogue in the original version of MAZE was atrocious!!!!! Seriously, it was hard not to get depressed reading some of it. I mean, what about the stuff I think is good now? In two years will it embarrass me to read THAT? I mean, it was awful, awful, awful. I'd like to publicly apologize to the few of you who read the original. If you need new eyeballs, I'll help pay for them.

The lesson for all of us? Work on your dialogue. Read books about it. Work on it. Read it out loud, make sure it sounds natural. Make sure a human being would actually utter what you've put on the page. Differentiate your characters. I hope this rewrite makes up for how bad some of that old stuff was. Ick.

Anyway, that's probably enough rambling.

Back to work. By the time I go home, THE MAZE RUNNER first draft will be complete!

Monday, August 11, 2008

First Day on the Job; Michael Phelps; Jason Lezak

Today is my first day of unemployment. Isn't that grand?

Actually, I'm not unemployed. The official definition of that word is one who has no job but is actively seeking one. I ain't. (And if I speak like that, it's a good thing!) I'm jobless in the sense that I work for no one and no one is ever going to give me a paycheck based on hours of work or give me any benefits. But boy do I have a job.

I'm an author now. It still seems too good to be true. No longer am I an accountant who authors on the side. I am an author. And it feels great.

Normally, switching jobs as I just did, it'd be cool to take off a week in between. But there's no time. My goal for this week is to break my personal record for words in one week. I have to. I need to get this first draft of THE MAZE RUNNER done so I can have a full month to revise and get feedback and revise. Wish me luck. I'm currently at 63,000 words.

My wife is my new boss, I guess. She won't let me become a lazy bum, which is a good thing. Despite this being my first day of freedom, I got up early and jogged, wrote 1,300 words, and now I'm doing my blog (which I consider as important as anything else in my new job!). I hope to complete 5,000 words a day this week. For those of you not good at math, that equates to 25,000 words by Friday, which would blow away my old record of around 20,000.

Now, if I can only make sure they're not 25,000 sucky words . . .

Wanna hear something funny? I quit my job and I still haven't been paid a dime! Not a cent! Isn't that hilarious? I thought so.

Actually, don't think I'm an irresponsible doofus. I have three sources of income coming very, very soon between advances and royalties. But I tell ya, two months ago when I made this decision, I had no idea we'd be cutting it this close. Don't worry, we'll be fine.

Switching gears - last night I experienced one of the greatest sporting moments of my life. I'm sure most of you know what I'm talking about. The 4 X 100 freestyle relay at the Olympics.

I love the Olympics. I love it with a passion. I watch it voraciously every time they occur. If I didn't have this huge deadline on MAZE, I'd spend the next 2 weeks doing nothing but. I'll settle this time for just the primetime coverage.

Anyway, last night I watched perhaps the most amazing Olympics moment of a lifetime of watching the Olympics. Well, one of, anyway. Michael Phelps is on a quest to break the record for golds at a single Olympiad, and last night's was the only race in which he was not the favorite. (He, meaning his relay team.)

When it came to the fourth and last guy, the Americans were a full body length behind the French (who'd trash talked and said they would "smash" us). The French dude is the WORLD RECORD HOLDER. The commentators had said the US would need a big lead before getting to that dude to have any chance of winning. And we were a BODY LENGTH behind.

But Jason Lezak performed a miracle. That's the only way it can be described. In only 100 meters, he somehow caught and passed (by 8 one hundredths of a second) the French dude and won the gold for USA, keeping Phelp's quest alive.

I, of course, stood up and screamed, waking the entire neighborhood. And to watch those 4 American swimmers celebrate was just amazing.

This Olympics will belong to Michael Phelps. He just may break Spitzer's record of 7 golds. But I think the name I will remember for the rest of my life is Jason Lezak. Wow. It was superhuman.

I love the Olympics.

Okay, back to work for me. I have a ruthless boss.