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.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Happy New Week to you!

A couple of quick notes inspired by the comments for my last post:

First, several of you told me I should've gotten an iPhone. I agree they are great. Really, really cool. But I'm sorry, not $500 cool. That's what a new one would cost me. I got my nV2 from Verizon for FREE, and me likey very much. Plus, I ALREADY have an iPod. I don't care if some publisher gave me a billion dollars tomorrow, I won't just throw away money. My mama taught me well!

Second, have any of you people actually READ my book? :-) I called her Jane because of Mistress Jane, the villain in Book 1. I'm hurt, very, very hurt. Okay, not really.

Moving on . . . last night we watched the LEMONY SNICKET movie for the first time. Not sure how or why we missed it when it came out, but there you have it. I have to say, I was very pleasantly surprised. It's worth watching just for the cinematography and Jim Carrey as Count Olaf. And the kid actors were great. I really enjoyed it.

I also watched some of the first preseason football game on NBC. I do this every year. Get all excited, get goosebumps when I hear Al Michaels' and John Madden's voices for the first time in months. And then reality hits me and I realize the game means nothing and I get bored quickly. But at least it means the real season is only a month away!

I need to do a post on contracts soon since I've gotten several emails about it. I promise I will. Boy have I learned a lot since getting a contract from a NY publisher.

Speaking of emails, I must apologize. I've always prided myself on answering every email I get, but it's grown difficult lately. Some I've neglected are even from good friends. I'm sorry! But I promise I'll be better once I'm full time and THE MAZE RUNNER is complete. Starting next week even, I plan to answer at least 10 a day until I can do more. So patience, it's a virtue!

My email is listed on the right side if you scroll down a bit, by the way.

Other than that, this is my last week at The Job, and I'm not too shook up about it. I'll miss the people I work with, but, ya know, I'll get over it. It'll be such a relief to only have ONE job. :-)

For any of you who might be going to the LDSBA this week in Utah, I have a signing at the Deseret Book booth at 11:30 on Wednesday. Come see me!