Friday, February 29, 2008

Whoa. I Leave in Two Days.

First, sorry I didn't post yesterday like promised. It's been crazy busy in these here parts. Thanks for all the nice comments and emails about the Borders thing.

Second, it finally hit me this morning. I woke up with a big monstrous butterfly trying to rip itself out of my stomach. It's here. It's really here. For well over a year I've been looking forward to this, aching for the day to come. Now that's it's here, I'm skeered. Really skeered. If any of you people live in Virgina, Georgia, Arizona, or Utah, please do me a favor and don't let my 2 week kick-off tour suck. Thanks.

If you don't live there, don't worry. I'm visiting several more cities in the weeks following. Details to come.

The full signing schedule for the first 2 weeks is up at Go there and then click on the menu and then Tour Dates. (it's a weird flash thingy so I can't give you a direct link) I'm also visiting a ton of schools, but I don't know if that's really information I'm allowed to share. It's not like anybody can just show up at a school and visit with me. I'll have to ask my publisher about that.

But for now, please just come to the signings. Every single person who comes gets a free poster, and there will be drawings for 13th Reality T-shirts. (they're really cool)

Meanwhile, there's a couple of interviews with me that are up if you're interested. I have to warn you, in the audio one, I sound like a very depressed person who hates children. I attribute it to nerves, but my wife promises me that everyone despises the sound of their own voice.

Here's a blog interview, thanks to Kaleb Nation: CLICK HERE

And here's the audio one, thanks to David Ewen and Blog Talk Radio: CLICK HERE

Well, I don't know what else to say. It's go time. This book is either going to sell, or it's not going to sell. I'm rooting for the first option. I'm going to try really hard to post each and every day of the tour, and give you guys an inside peek of what it's like. I'll share every detail, no matter how excruciating. Or wonderful.

Final note: Please don't forget to participate in the 13th Reality Charity Drive. It's very simple. If anyone buys a book between now and March 9th, all you have to do is leave us a comment of the details on any post and I will donate the full royalty for that book to a charity designated by the ONE campaign to eliminate worldwide poverty. You can also pledge to join me if you so wish. Read the full details: CLICK HERE. Please spread the word.

Next stop, the Change the World Tour. The theme: Smart Enough, Brave Enough. The goal: Convince kids that they have the power and courage within them to make the world a better place. (And, of course, to sell books.) As Simon Cowell would say, off ya go.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Great News from Borders Bookstores

Hi guys. I was just about to post the finalized full schedule for the Change the World Tour, but then I found out some sweet news, so I wanted to share. I'll post the schedule tomorrow.

Borders Bookstores (wonderful, awesome, really cool Borders Bookstores) has chosen my new book as one of their April Original Voices selections. For those of you who live in a cave and never visit Borders (shame on you!), they have a special section that is prominently displayed in their stores called Original Voices. It's to showcase new or rising authors and artists and, of course, their works.

In other words, The 13th Reality will be very visibly displayed for an entire month in every Borders bookstore across the country. Plus, it gets some exposure on their website and other stuff. How cool is that!

It's also very surreal for me. I can't tell you how many hours upon hours I've spent in the downtown Salt Lake City Borders (which is closed due to construction - oh the agony!!!!!!!). I've looked at the Original Voices section every month for as long as I can remember. So, needless to say, I'm very honored and happy.

Thanks, Borders. You rock. No, seriously, you rock. Like major rockage. More boulder-ish than anything, really.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Juno and Vantage Point

Hi guys. My wife informed me this morning that I need to spice up the blog a little to make sure people want to come back. In other words, don't just talk about book stuff all the time. Or writing stuff. (Don't worry, there will still be plenty of that.) I think my wife was actually trying to give me a hint that I'm a very boring person and that she's considering moving on, but maybe that's because I have an overactive imagination.

So I thought I'd review two movies we saw recently.

Juno - Okay, people, there's a reason this was nominated for Best Picture and Best Actress, and won Best Original Screenplay. One of my new goals in life is to meet Diablo Cody, the writer. She actually writes once every three weeks in Entertainment Weekly now, and she's got a great sense of humor.

I despise spoilers, so I will give a one sentence synopsis: A 16-year-old girl gets pregnant, and has to deal with the tough job of putting the baby up for adoption.

This movie was awesome. Truly. Brilliant characterization, great unpredictability, tons of humor, and spot on acting. As much as I loved Ellen Page as the title character, I also really enjoyed the job done by her dad and stepmom, her boyfriend, and the adoptive parents. What is it about Jason Bateman? I just love that guy. If you like him, you should see Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium. Not the greatest movie ever, but Bateman really shines in that one. I long for the days of that old sitcom he was in. Valerie I think?

Okay, as you can tell, I'm not very good at doing movie reviews. Somehow we got off topic.

Juno is great. It stayed with me for days and days, and is still there. I love movies that show life as it really is - hard and trying - but also display the sweet tenderness of the human being and love and all that cornball stuff. Without being sappy. Nothing sappy about this movie. In fact, I have to give a warning: it has some very crude language and innuendos. Even a little much for PG-13 maybe. In other words, don't see it with your potential mother-in-law or you'll die of embarrassment.

One final note: The Dashner Dude got a little teary eyed. Yeah, that's right. It has a wonderful, beautiful, sweet, tender (please insert other corny adjectives) ending, and I left feeling very good about life. Bring a tissue if you have a thing for babies.

Okay, on to movie #2:

Vantage Point - Okay, I was totally stoked (yes, I grew up in the 80s) to see this one. I love any political thriller type movie, action movie, blow-em-up movie. And it had two of my favorite actors, Matthew Fox and Dennis Quaid (Enemy Mine anyone?).

Synopsis: Tells the same assassination plot story from 8 different perspectives, starting over each time and revealing new things.

First off: Hello annoying guy who sat next to us! I hope you've found your meds. This guy obviously had no idea what to expect, because everytime the story started over, he very vocally complained to the surrounding audience about how stupid that was. He even pointed out to his girlfriend that starting a movie over and over from scratch was very poor filmmaking. Probably wasn't the right movie for ya, big guy.

I admit, I was glad I knew this going in, so I should give him a break.

Anyway, here's my verdict: It was okay. Fun, exciting, pretty clever, great acting. Definitely a nice action flick to watch while your body undergoes the enormous strain of digesting forty pounds of food from Cafe Rio.

But I was VERY disappointed in the ending. And no, I don't give spoilers. But let me tell you this: there was a very valuable lesson for all writers in this movie. Ever heard the phrase Deus Ex Machina? It's a fancy, trendy way to say something is contrived. That coincidence saves the day. This movie has one of the worst Deus Ex Machina endings I've ever witnessed with my eyeballs. But it was still fun.

Well, there you have it. The first ever Dashner Dude Movie Reviews. Since I'm a guy who loves movies more than anything else in the world besides family and writing and football and cheese, expect more in the future.

Please don't forget the 13th Reality Charity Drive. Click HERE for details.

Also, please go and review on Amazon if and when you read my new book, THE 13TH REALITY!

Click HERE if you liked it.

Click HERE if you didn't like it.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Spot the 13

Well, we have an interesting problem. Of course, it's not really a problem, but it is interesting.

You see, I'm not big enough yet. Evidently my name doesn't have enough cred to establish a hard street date for the release of a book. In other words, everyone is ignoring the street date requested by my publisher. Oh well. I can think of 1,365,976,345,156 worse problems.

Imagine my surprise when I got an email yesterday from a friend saying her book had arrived in the mail. And then another. And then another. I said, "huh?" How could this be? The release date isn't until March 3rd. But then someone saw it in a bookstore. I said, "huh?"

Then here's the real kicker. I won't go into details, but one bookstore lady fought with another bookstore lady in the same city because the one put it on display and the other had been told not to. I found this quite hilarious. People are fighting over my book. This is a wonderful and beautiful thing.

Anyway, the buzz is strong and presales exceeded everyone's expectations. Barnes and Noble already ordered more for their stores before it even came out. That can't be a bad thing.

So please, I'd love to hear from you guys. If any of you see it in a store, or received one in the mail, pop over here and let us know at The Dashner Dude. Be sure and tell us where you are and where you saw it. However, on behalf of my publisher, I have to ask this: don't buy it until March 3rd. :-)

Speaking of that, don't forget the 13th Reality Charity Drive: CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS.

FOR THOSE OF YOU IN VIRGINIA: The date of the booksigning has been changed to March 3rd, not March 4th. Please come see me! I hope to post the full Change the World Tour Schedule on Monday, at least for the first 2 weeks. The one I posted a couple of weeks ago is mostly the same, but there have been additions.

And those in Utah, I especially want you to come see me at The King's English bookstore on March 18th at 7:00 pm. All my other signings are associated with school visits, and should have really big crowds. So it might be a little more personal at TKE. Plus, I'm doing a discussion and a reading. And, of course, free posters to everyone who comes!

Well, that's about it for now. Have a great Saturday.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The King's English and Reviews on Amazon

Hey, I just spoke to Jenn Northington of The King's English bookstore in Salt Lake City. It's an independent, very posh, very hip bookstore that is known across the country. Shannon Hale told me I had to do an event there, so I'd taken them a book and hoped for the best. Well, it's on!

If you live in Utah, PLEASE COME! It will be the evening of Tuesday March 18th at 7:00 pm. The address: 1511 South 1500 East in Salt Lake City. There will be more info to follow, but I wanted to plant the seed. It's seriously the coolest, most quaint, fun bookstore you'll ever see.

Also, you can now post reviews on THE 13TH REALITY at amazon! Please, if you were able to read an advance copy, head on over there and leave a review. Unless you hated it, in which I'd like you to pretend you never read this. Of course, if you hated it, why would you still be reading my blog?

Here's the link: CLICK HERE

Also, please don't forget the 13th Reality Charity Drive. To count, you can leave a comment on any posting you'd like - I see them all. Read the details in the post below this one. Thanks!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The 13th Reality Charity Drive

Let me start by telling you my favorite short story of all time.

A man is walking down a beach, littered with thousands of stranded starfish. Every so often, he picks up a starfish and throws it back into the ocean. Another man approaches him and says, "What are you doing? Look at these thousands of starfish! How can you possibly think you're making a difference?"

The first man bends down, picks up another starfish, tosses it in the water, then replies: "I just made a difference to that one."

I want to try an experiment. I have no delusions that I'm powerful enough to make this work, but maybe I can with your help. If this goes well, I'll do similar things in the future. Here's the gist: Any person who buys my book during its first week of release, and lets us know about it here on The Dashner Dude blog, I will donate 100 PERCENT OF MY ROYALTY for that book to the One Campaign. I will also solicit donors to contribute as well.

You can learn more about the One Campaign here: It is an amazing movement to obliterate poverty across the world, and is partnered with such other worthy charities like Product Red and American Idol Gives Back. Talk about politics all day if you'd like. These people are working to make things happen.

Here are the rules:

1. You must buy the book during its first week of release (March 3rd to March 9th). You must also post a comment telling us when and where you bought it, including the name of the store (just for fun). I will have a permanent link to this post on the side of the blog, as well as reminders and links in every post from now until March 9th. Yes, I could donate for every book sold, period, but I DO have a family to feed.

2. YOU CAN PLEDGE: If you'd also like to pledge an amount yourself for every book sold and listed on my blog, please do so in the comments or email me. Give a nickel. Give a dime. Give a quarter. Whatever. Also, to protect you in case this goes nuts, please don't feel bad giving a cap amount as well. If you are a business, all the better! I will take care of all the math, and when it's over I'll do a summary post and tell you how to donate your portion. I will also list all donors and give you proper props.

3. This will greatly depend on you spreading the word. Please do so. I know the cynics will say this is merely a ploy by me to boost sales. Well, I would do that anyway, so why do some silly gimmick? Instead, we'll all be helping a great cause. And I'm not asking anyone to buy the book that wouldn't anyway. But if you're going to buy it, hey, you might as well help a starving child.

4. You will be amazed at the difference we can make. I'll spare you the math, but even if I'm the only one who pledges (which I already have), every 25 books listed in the comments will pay to feed a child in Kenya FOR AN ENTIRE YEAR. So please, spread the word. If someone buys it, tell them to come over and let us know. I'll give my entire royalty to the One Campaign.

5. I know online sales confuse the issue. I'll make it simple: If you order online from Amazon or whatever at any time between five thousand years ago and March 9th, I will count it. So those of you who have preordered already, let us know. You should definitely count.

6. If you buy the books on CD, that also counts. Just let me know. That will, of course, result in a bigger royalty because it costs more.

7. I'm leaving this rule open, because I'm sure I've forgotten something. If any of you think of what Rule #7 should be, let me know.

My final statement: Listen, I'm the luckiest person in the world. My childhood dream of being an author has come true. But many children have only one constant, aching dream: find something to eat for their next meal. This is an experiment, and a fun way to combine the excitement of my first week of release with a good cause. If it fails, I'll try something else.

Please spread the word. Blog about it, email about it, talk about it. Pledge something, even it it's only a little. The name of my author tour is the Change the World Tour. Let's be true to it.

Thanks for reading, thanks for participating. The 13th Reality Charity Drive starts . . . NOW.

UPDATE ON FEBRUARY 21: I've spoken with the good people at and they've informed me that they do not in fact accept donations. Their purpose is more to promote the campaign and the cause, and they are privately funded. They are, however, deciding which charity it should go to for me. I'll let you know. But they were very complimentary and enthusiastic about our drive. Whatever happens, I promise every penny will go directly to a hungry child.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Report on LTUE

First of all, I'm very sorry that I'm an idiot and didn't take a camera. This post could be so much interestinger if I'd had a camera. If anyone was there and would like to share a picture with us, let me know.

It was a great couple of days, and as usual, I learned more than I preached. Here are some of the highlights, the Top Ten I guess:

1. On Friday I had lunch with Brandon Sanderson (Elantris, Mistborn, Alcatraz, Wheel of Time) and Dan Willis (Dragonlance). Brandon brought his contracts and I brought mine, and we compared and Brandon taught me many wise things. He's a stud. Dan knows a lot about the business, too. We basically spent 2 hours kickin' it as the young whippersnappers say. (I give it one hour before someone informs me that kids do not in fact say that.)

2. I served on panels with fun people talking about everything from writing for young readers to what it's like to have been published by an independent press. Although I try to answer questions as best I can, I also spend much of the time trying to think of funny things to say and ways to embarrass my co-panelists. Especially Jessica Day George.

3. It was really packed, as many people as I've ever seen at the event. Maybe that had something to do with Orson Scott Card and Gail Carson Levine being there. Ya think?

4. I did a book signing with Levine and Sanderson and Rick Walton. Levine had a very, very long line. So, of course, I got off my hiney and walked down her line, handing everyone a 13th Reality bookmark. Aspiring writers, take note. Always look for opportunities to self promote! And act confident, as if you're doing THEM a favor. :-)

5. MOST SURREAL MOMENT: I didn't get to spend as much time with Orson Scott Card as I would've liked. He was always surrounded by tons of fans. But I did spend a few minutes with him, and I gave him a signed copy of 13th Reality. Imagine what that felt like. Ender's Game is one of my all-time favorite books, and I've been reading Card for 20 years. It was way cool to hand him my own book, with a note thanking him for his influence. I hope he reads it! I think.

6. I had lunch on Saturday with some of the usual crowd plus Bruce Simpson. This guy is just very, very cool, and he's a teacher who loves his students. He's also an aspiring writer, and he picked my brain for awhile. Good luck, Bruce, and I hope everyone out there learns something from him. Find authors, eat with them.

7. I also want to mention Judi Collings. She's just this wonderful, wonderful woman who has supported me from the very beginning. Her husband is the poet and author, Michael Collings. I gave Judi a book, and she gave me a really cool piece of stone jewelry for my wife. I think I came out ahead. Also, a big thanks to the wonderful Charlie and Steve, who ran the show. They've also supported me since my first book with the sad little cover came out. These people are incredible, and Charlie, I owe you a book. Sorry, forgot!

8. I ate at this awesome new sushi place with Howard and Sandra Tayler, J. Scott Savage, Bob Defendi, Dan Willis, Brook West, and Julia Forgot-Her-Last-Name. (Sorry!) It's called Sushi Ya and is my new favorite restaurant.

9. I had the chance to meet many fans and true writers. I won't dare mention names for the fear of leaving someone out, but please know that my favorite part was talking to people like you in between the panels. That's what it's all about.

10. Last but not least, the whole shabang ended with dinner out with some good friends. There was a banquet, but we weren't able to go to that, so we hit a restaurant. It was me, J. Scott Savage, his wife Jen, Julie Wright, Karen Hoover, Melinda Morley, and Suzy Gehring. Much was discussed, much was eaten, and many people were made fun of. In a good way, of course.

Well, I'm sure I've left something or someone out and terribly offended people. But it was a great couple of days and I had fun giving away a lot of free 13th Reality stuff.

Two weeks from today, the book comes out. Two weeks from today! Wow. I'm kinda excited.

Coming soon: announcement of the 13th Reality charity drive.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

First Draft Complete! and LTUE

Well, this is a little anticlimactic, but I can now officially say that my first draft of THE 13TH REALITY, BOOK 2: THE HUNT FOR DARK INFINITY is complete! It took me 3 and a half months, clocks in at 95,418 words, and was completed on schedule, just as I planned. Yes, I'm very proud of myself (and yes, I was writing at 4:00 in the morning to make sure I met my goal).

It will probably end up around 100,000 words because I know of a scene I want to add and there are a few I want to flesh out more. Not to mention the dreaded rounds of rewrites coming up with my wife, friends, and my editor. But today, we rejoice! I finished by my anniversary.

Also, on a completely different note, I can't believe I forgot to mention an event I'm involved with this weekend. If any of you live in Utah, listen up.

It's called LTUE, which stands for "Life, the Universe, and Everything." It's an annual symposium held at BYU (Brigham Young University), and it's mainly for the genres of science fiction and fantasy. Basically, a little mini con type thing. Read: lots of people who glory in Star Trek and Harry Potter.

This year has some exciting guests, and it's totally free. Orson Scott Card will be there, Brandon Sanderson, Gail Carson Levine (Ella Enchanted) and many more. Including, ahem, yours truly.

How cool is this: tomorrow I'm having lunch with Sanderson. Tomorrow I'm doing a signing with Levine. And on Saturday, the lady in charge promised to make sure she corners me with Mr. Card. Oh, he only wrote the book that would end up defining and reshaping my love of reading (Ender's Game).

Anyway, I'm very excited, and will give a full report next week. Come on over if you live around here. It's free, and pretty much runs all day today, tomorrow, and Saturday in the Wilkinson Center. I'll have free 13th Reality posters and bookmarks for anyone who wants one. My signing is Friday at 3:30 in the BYU bookstore.

Well, Happy Valentine's Day, and more importantly, don't let a silly date out on the town interfere with tonight's episode of LOST. Thank the good stars above for TiVo. Chao.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Best Decade of My Life

Let me start by first saying this: That is not a picture of me. Nor is it of my wife. But it gave me a serious fit of the snickers, so there it is.

Folks, I need to step aside from the usual fare and tell you a little something. Tomorrow, I will have been married to Lynette for 10 years. That's a full decade for those of you keeping score at home.

(I must pause here, or my wife will kill me. Yes, we got married on Valentine's Day. But that was only because I had a week off from school the next week, it was a Saturday, and neither of our moms would let us even consider getting married on Friday the 13th. We had no red, no hearts, no pink, nothing of the sort on our wedding day. So quit rolling your eyes.)

Now, back to the story. I know many of you think of me as the tough, hardened, mountain manish hunky hulkmeister. And yes, that's mostly true. But I do have a sensitive side.

And I just wanted to publicly tell the world (I know, that's redundant) that this has been the best decade of my life. My wife is the greatest thing (or person) to have ever existed on Planet Earth. I say this without hesitation, because it is true. She's the only person to ever fully understand (and tolerate) my quirks and faults, and she's simply the greatest mom since one Linda P. Dashner from Sumter, South Carolina (bearer of James in 1972, a kid with cheeks the size of Aretha Franklin's . . . calves).

Anyway, it's an overused cliche, but anyone who knows me will verify the truth of the following statement: I married up. Boy did I.

And so, Lynette, thanks for ten years. Here's to 60 more, and then may we both drop dead while playing bridge at the retirement home and go live in Heaven somewhere. I love you.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Three Weeks From Today

As we get closer to the release date, I just want to throw a couple of shout-outs and make some random comments as well.

Last Thursday I spent an awesome day with the teachers and students at Foothills Elementary in Utah. Thanks to Cheryl Droz and Principal Kyle Hansen for treating me so well and planning such a great literacy event. Also a HUGE thanks to Angie Wager at Barnes and Noble for coming to the school and selling books. Angie is easily one of the Top 5 people to help make my author dream come true, and I owe her a lot.

Anne Bowen, the author of several nationally published picture books was also there. She and I have done several events together now and are basically DDOSV. You know, Dangerous Duo of School Visits.

Then Saturday I spoke with fellow colleagues J. Scott Savage (first book this August called Farworld), Julie Olson (illustrator extraordinaire), and Chris Schoebinger ("The Man" at Shadow Mountain) at an event for the Nebo School District. Talk about your dream audience: Over 100 middle school and high school students who came on a SATURDAY to learn about writing. A big thanks to LuAnn Staheli and everyone else who planned the event. It was awesome.

Somehow, without really meaning to, I'm starting to gather a Dashner Posse. It started as a joke, but now I have official members! The only rules are that you can't be a stupid old adult and you have to like books by James Dashner. The first members are LaReesa and Hallie from Foothills and Austin, Grace, Carlie, and Mikayla from Payson Junior High. I don't really know what it means to be a member, but there you have it.

Chris brought posters and bookmarks for THE 13TH REALITY. It was the first time I'd seen them, and they're sweet! Anyone who comes to book signings in the next few months will get them for free. I had fun signing them with my ubercool silver paint pen on Saturday.

Other Random Thoughts:

I'm officially friends with Kaza Kingsley now, who wrote the Erec Rex books, and you should all go buy them this very minute. Her website is and she just finished the third book in the series. She and I are going to swap blurbs next year (assuming she doesn't hate my book). I already know I like her books, so she's safe. Her books are coming out in 9 other countries this year, so a big congrats to her.

I also cyber met this cool guy named Kaleb Nation who has his own radio show. This dude is only 19 and is already taking over the world. Check him out at

I'm basically done with the first draft of Book 2. I still have a couple of scenes I want to add before it's an official draft, but that'll be done in the next couple of days. Then it's on to the most joyous experience of being an author: Rewrites!!!!! Okay, not really. It's my least favorite part, but the MOST IMPORTANT part.

I had lunch with Mark Wright, who did the audio for Book 1, and my editor Lisa and her husband Tracy. It lasted over 2 hours and was the most fun I've had in a long time. My face hurt so bad from laughing the entire time. Mark is as weird and psychotic as I hoped, and likes all the things I do. And the dude's a stud - he's like 7 feet tall and has longish hair. Check out his blog at and Tracy's blog at

I promise they'll both give you a laugh.

Let's see, what else. For those of you who have read advance copies of the book, I beg of you to go find places to put kind reviews. If you liked it, of course. If you didn't, please keep it to yourself and go read some Chuck Dickens. There's this site called LibraryThing that was sent 100 ARCs by my publisher. A couple of people have put reviews up that kinda hurt the Dashner Dude's feelings, so I'm trying to remember the thick skin I grew from all those rejections in the past. :-)

Amazon won't let you review it until the book is released. But when it is, please review there!

Okay, this is one long post. Final thought: The official release date is March 3, 2008. Remember, the March 13th thing was just a gimmick. MARCH THIRD. If you plan on buying it, please do it that week if at all possible. A strong first week leads to many strong weeks afterward. And you never know, maybe we'll hit some bestseller lists.......

Well, I'll shut the yapper now. Have a great day.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Mark Your Calendars

I'm going to start listing book signings as they are scheduled. There is an events page on the official website, but I'd like it to be here, too. So I'll put a link on the side or something. But for now, here's what's on the docket so far.

Every day of the initial 2 week tour will be spent visiting schools in the areas listed. I don't have that itinerary yet from my publisher. Please come see me! Leave a comment if you think you'll be able to make it to one of the signings. Maybe we can have an exclusive Dashner Dude dinner out party afterwards.

There will be free 13th Reality posters for anyone who comes to the stores, purchase made or not. Here you go, mark your calendars:

Tuesday March 4, 2008
Barnes and Noble
11640 West Broad Street
6:30 pm

Friday March 7, 2008
Barnes and Noble
2205 Pleasant Hill Road
7:00 pm

Tuesday March 11, 2008
Barnes and Noble
1758 South Val Vista Drive
7:00 pm

Wednesday March 12, 2008
Barnes and Noble
7157 South Plaza Center Drive (Jordan Landing)
7:00 pm

To be scheduled soon: Orlando, San Diego, Spokane, Idaho Falls. Others to follow.
By the way, what do you think of the nifty countdown thingy on the right? Thanks to Kaleb Nation for tipping me on that one. The look of it actually fits in very well with the book. If you click on the little green icon on the bottom left of it, you can put the countdown on your desktop. Yeah, you know you want to.

Random Trivia: My editor and I are huge Rush fans. Well, a line from one of their songs fits in perfectly with the story. We were going to include it at the very beginning, but it never materialized. Surely I would've been the first children's author to have a Rush snippet, dang it!

Here's the line:

If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

I also would've loved to include this very simple line from (anyone guess?):

It makes me wonder . . .

How did we go from signing schedules to lyrics by 70s bands? Well, there you have it. Be good.

Monday, February 4, 2008

DD Debate: Chapters Short or Long?

Well, with all the political debates going on, I figured The Dashner Dude needed to get in on the act. Don't worry, no politics here. Something much more important: should chapters be short or long? (kidding, of course, on the "much more important" part)

I'd really like everyone to chime in on this. It seems like a small thing, but it's not. This is vital to writers and readers alike, and I'd like your opinion. After I give mine.

Many of my respected colleagues have a very strong opinion that chapters should NOT be short (by the way, I am talking specifically about books for middle grade and young adult here). Their reasoning is that coming to the end of a chapter gives a kid an excuse to quit reading, and therefore if the chapters are really short no kid will ever finish the book.

I disagree.

I think it's the opposite. If a kid gets to the end of a chapter, and KNOWS the next one is a doozy, long long long, there's no chance on Earth he or she is going to keep reading. However, if the kid knows the next chapter is SHORT, he or she will think to themselves, ooh, just one more, giddyup.

I've received hundreds of emails and letters from readers. Without one single exception, not one, I've had many say they love my short chapters. Of course, that's not a scientific study, because the kids who write me are those who like my books. I doubt someone would write just to say, your chapters are too short. But still. Not one? Ever?

I have matured in my chapter structure. They got a little too short in Jimmy Fincher. And some of the "cliff hanger" endings were a little contrived. I think I'm much better at creating solid chapter endings, but still making the reader want to read the next one. And the next one. And the next one.

I guess I should define short and long. My chapters are now between 1,500 and 2,500 words. That's between 6 and 10 pages in the final book, roughly. For example, my new book coming out has 51 chapters and it's just over 400 pages. Harry Potter has long chapters, 20 or more pages per chapter. (Yikes, if we based it just on that, I might as well concede now!) Longer chapters obviously worked very well for JK Rowling. But was it DESPITE the long chapters because the story was so good? Maybe.

Anyway, sound off. As soon as my book comes out and the blog grows, I WILL create a forum. But until then, we must debate in the comments. So, what do you think? Short or long? Let me know.

WRITING UPDATE: I'm now at 89,632 words on Book 2. The End is in sight, and it's bittersweet as always.

BOOK UPDATE: I got my copies of the audio for Book 1. They look awesome! (I already told you they sound awesome. Kudos again to Mark Wright.) The release date is now less than one month away. As my son would say, sweet biscuits.