Archive for March, 2011

The Dan Wells Book Tour Challenge: NaShoStoMo

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

You know what I’m horrible at? Short stories. From an outsider perspective that looks ridiculous, I know, because I’m a writer, right? I just wrote a 100k book in three months, how hard could a short story be compared to that? The answer: incredibly hard, to the point of not really being comparable. Writing a novel uses completely different skills and techniques than writing short stories, and those are skills and techniques i do not possess. But that’s what practice is for, right?

Yesterday I said that I was going to do something crazy and dumb while on tour, and you probably though I was talking about skydiving or shark hunting or shaking people’s hands, but no, I’m talking about a ridiculous short story challenge. During the month of April I intend to write a short story every day. Consider it my own little version of NaNoWriMo, but with short stories instead of a novel. Many of them will be VERY short, and most of them will be awful, but that’s the point–I’m doing this to force myself to learn, and to keep my writing going while on tour. It’s incredibly difficult to novel while doing a lot of traveling (at least for me), but cranking out short crappy stories is something I (probably) will be able to do. With any luck, by the end of the month I’ll be better at this stuff. If any of them are good enough for public consumption, I’ll post them here.

Want to join me on this mad endeavor? I think it’s a great opportunity to learn some new things, and I’d love to commiserate with anyone nuts enough to join in. Here are a few rules and guidelines to help us along:

1) Start by reading this post from Eric James Stone. It’s got some valuable advice that I know will be specifically handy for me, and probably for you.
2) I’m setting the minimum at 200 words, though most of my stories will likely be longer; it’s possible to have shorter story, but I specifically want to stop myself from writing “There once was a man, he lived and he died” kind of stories. 200 words is short while still being long enough to force me to take it seriously.
3) Each story must have a beginning, a middle, and an end. We’re trying to learn how to write short stories, not random 200-word space-fillers.
4) As long as you end up with 30 stories, one per day, it doesn’t matter which day they were actually written on–so if you get in the zone and do more than one at a time, you can afford to slack off. This will be handy for me, as some of my tour days involve 14 hours of driving, plus I plan to take Sundays off.
5) If you post about your quest on Twitter or Facebook, use the hashtag #NaShoStoMo. Which totally sounds like the name of Quasimodo’s brother.

Ready? Go!

Book Launch Day, and Dan’s Mystery Project Revealed!

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

First things first: today is the official release day for I Don’t Want to Kill You, the third and final book in the John Cleaver trilogy. As much as I love the first two, the third book is my favorite: it has my favorite character, my favorite ending, and my favorite reactions. Mr. Monster was the book that my friends read and said “Dan, you really scare me.” I Don’t Want to Kill You is the book my friends read and say “Dan, I hate you and I can’t believe you did this to me and when are you writing the next one?” Don’t let that comment fool you: this is the end of the series, and the plot you’ve been following for three years comes to a solid resolution. When friend and fellow author Seanan McGuire finished the book she said: “You stuck the landing, and you stuck it HARD.” I won’t leave you hanging. But that’s not to say that I won’t someday come back and tell a new story with these characters….

The book lauch will be tonight, Tuesday March 29, at Sam Weller’s in Salt Lake City at 6pm. I’ll be signing at the Orem Barnes & Noble tomorrow night at 7, and then heading off on a month-long tour; full details are on my website calendar. I’ve also added to that calendar every con appearance I have scheduled for the rest of the year, including some very big events: WorldCon, DragonCon, World Fantasy, etc. If you’re going to be at any of those, look me up.

Now, on to the other piece of exciting news: the long-awaited revelation of the Mystery Project I’ve been teasing you with for months. Remember when I always used to say “no one will knock on your door and ask you to write a book”? Well, I can’t really say that anymore.

Several months ago, my agent was talking to a friend at Harper Teen about how they were looking for a solid YA post-apocalypse series, and they didn’t really have any in the pipeline; my agent, being awesome, said “I’ve got an author who could KILL a YA post-apocalypse series,” and promptly called me. Within a few hours I was emailing the editor, resulting in a phone call with two editors, resulting in me pitching them an idea for a series about genetic manipulation, engineered plagues, and semi-human armies (at this time I was in the middle of writing my cloning book, Extreme Makeover: Apocalypse Edition, so genetics were on my mind). They liked the ideas, we kicked around a few other options, and before I knew it we were signing a contract for a trilogy.

The first book in the series, which I have finished and which my editors, Jordan Brown and Ruta Rimas, are currently reviewing, is called Partials, a reference to the semi-human army I mentioned earlier. It starts about eleven years after the Partials released a plague that destroyed mankind, all but wiping our civilization off the face of the earth. The North American survivors have gathered (and may have been herded) to Long Island, where they are struggling to cure the plague and save their species. The main character is a girl named Kira, a 16-year-old medical student, determined to unravel the mystery of the plague, the Partials, and everything else.

Partials comes out sometime in 2012, the same year as my schizophrenia book The Hollow City; I don’t know the exact date, but my guess is either Spring or Fall, which narrows it down to about half a year, which doesn’t really tell you anything. The manuscript for the first book was due in the first of March, after signing the contract sometime in November, which meant the turn-around for the book was insane: I had to plot out the trilogy, craft the characters, outline the first book, and write it, all in about three and a half months. It was nuts, but I’m really proud of the results. The second manuscript is due in the first of March next year, which will be much easier to hit. I’m hoping I can go back to Extreme Makeover and finish it by the end of summer, about five months from now, which will give me six months to finish the second Partials book; since the world has already been created, and the overall plot is already in place, the prep work for Partials 2 (not the real title, obviously) will be pretty light. Extreme Makeover will be a Tor book (my editor Moshe is incredibly excited about it), and I’m hoping to arrange the situation such that I can put out two books a year: a YA from Harper and an adult book from Tor. In 2012, in between writing the second and third Partials book, I plan to start a new series set in the John Cleaver universe, which should make a lot of you very happy. So now you know what I’m working on for the next two years—with the caveat, of course, that I am an excitable man, and fickle in my writing tastes, so don’t be surprised if I end up taking a few months in the middle somewhere to write something else for no good reason.

So that’s the news. I hope you can all join me on my tour in April, to talk about John Cleaver or Partials or The Hollow City or anything else. Also, stay tuned tomorrow when I announce the crazy dumb thing I’m trying to do while on tour. A gauntlet will be thrown.

World Fantasy Convention

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

I’m definitely going–my ticket is already purchased–but I don’t know what, if anything, I’ll be doing. Maybe just hanging out. More details will be presented as they become available.

Added bonus: it’s not over Halloween this year, so I might actually get to trick or treat with my kids! In someone else’s neighborhood, because mine is lame and no one trick-or-treats!


Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

Oh Nerdi Gras, crazy geek convention so dear to my heart. I would dress you as Catwoman and whisper sweet Firefly quotes in your ear.

I don’t know if I’m doing anything official at this thing yet, but I’m definitely going. More info will be made available as soon as I have it.

WorldCon 2011: RENOvation

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

WorldCon is in Reno this year, and EVERYONE should be there. I’ve got a lot of events there this year, so come say hi.

Thursday, 3:30 – 4:00pm, Reading: Dan Wells, A15 (RSCC)
I don’t yet know exactly what I’ll be reading at this thing, maybe a bit of my new ebook? Maybe a sample of my novella for the Mormons and Monsters anthology? Or maybe a section of The Hollow City, my book coming out next Spring. I have no idea. Any suggestions?

Thursday, 5:00 – 7:00pm, Writing Excuses Live, D05 (RSCC)
Guests this year include Patrick Rothfuss, Seanan McGuire, and many, many more. Live interviews! Expert advice! Awkward silences when guests are blindsided with the request for a writing prompt! This event will have it all.

Friday, 10:00 – 11:00am, The Hidden Monkey Wrench in Cloning, A09 (RSCC)
Official description: How can two cats have identical DNA and yet look and act differently? What’s going on? Speculation on what we might not know and why cloning might be a whole lot more complicated than we think.
My description: I’m on this panel because I’m currently writing two different books about cloning, but I am INCREDIBLY intimidated to have to get up and talk about the subject intelligently in front of people who know way more about it than I do. Come watch me stumble around like an idiot!

Fri 15:00 – 16:00pm, KaffeeKlatsch, KK1 (RSCC)
I totally have a kaffeeklatsch this year! I know, I’m so excited. For those who don’t know, a kaffeklatsch is an hour-long, informal chat between an industry professional (author/editor/artist/etc.) and the first five or six people who sign up on the list that morning. Check the schedules: the person you’re dying to talk to probably has one. And if for some reason you’re dying to talk to me, well, I’ll try to be entertaining.

Fri 5:00 – 6:00pm, Autographing, Hall 2
Do you want me to deface your book? Because i can totally hook you up. I don’t even care if it’s my book–I’ll sign ANY book you bring me.

Saturday, 12:00 – 1:00pm, Meet the Campbell Award Nominees, A03 (RSCC)
A panel moderated by last year’s Campbell winner (and this year’s Hugo nominee) Seanan McGuire, and including this year’s entire Campbell list, this is a panel you do not want to miss. I have been threatened with death by at least two of my fellow nominees, so this is guaranteed to be exciting.

Saturday, 4:00 – 5:00pm, Beyond Harry Potter: What other Young Adult Fiction Everyone — Adults Included — Should Be Reading, A11 (RSCC)
Official description: Harry Potter entertained a generation of kids (and adults). What are other young adult novels that you should be reading? We’ll look at newcomers to the field of YA as well as some golden oldies.
My description: This is another one that has me kind of scared. Do I really know what kids should be reading? Aside from my own books, of course? Expect me to start with a blank stare, slowly start to disagree with people, and then end up hogging the microphone with my loud and unnecessary opinions. You know, like I always do.

Saturday, 8:00 – 10:00pm, Hugo Awards Ceremony
Everyone at WorldCon is invited to attend the Hugos, which is a far more interesting and star-studded event than you think it’s going to be, if you’ve never been to one before. I’m up for two awards, and many friends of mine are up for others, so come cheer and clap and then cry disconsolately when somebody else wins.

Teen Writing Conference

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

This is, as the title implies, a writing conference for teens. It’s held at Weber State University but I don’t know who’s actually in charge. I’ll be presenting “How to Scare People,” and my brother Rob and I will co-teach a class on brainstorming.


Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

CONduit is a small but awesome SF/Fantasy convention in Salt Lake City. Here’s my schedule:

Noon – Where Are the New Monsters?
2:00pm – Horror: A Constant State of Fear

11:00am – Why Do We Podcast?
1:00pm – How to Write Great Villains
3:00pm – SF/F and Mystery: Combining Genres
8:00pm – Celebrity All-Star L5R RPG exhibition game

LDS Storymakers

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

This is a great writing conference in Provo, UT. I will be giving my “How to Scare People” presentation, plus we’ll be recording several episodes of Writing Excuses in front of a live audience (including at least one episode, if not more, starring my awesome agent Sara Crowe).

Book tour info for I DON’T WANT TO KILL YOU

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

At long last, I have finalized my next book tour and posted all of the times and places in my calendar (right there in the left column of this website. And yes, there are east coast and limited midwest events! I’m very excited. For convenience, here’s the full list:

March 29: Book launch at Sam Weller’s, Salt Lake City, 6pm
March 30: Barnes & Noble, Orem, 7pm
April 1: University Bookstore, Seattle, 7pm
April 4: Powell’s, Beaverton (Portland), 7pm
April 9: Borderlands, San Francisco, 3pm
April 10: Dark Delicacies, Burbank (LA), 2pm
April 14: Borders, Mission Valley (San Diego), 7pm
April 15: Mysterious Galaxy, San Diego, 7pm
April 20: Barnes & Noble, Baltimore, 7pm
April 21: Peerless Books, Alpharetta (Atlanta), 7pm
April 23: Uncle Hugo’s, Minneapolis, 1pm
April 26: Murder By the Book, Houston, 7pm

Every event will be filled with awesomeness. Also: signings of books.

I want to try something new on this tour. My favorite part of traveling is eating new food, but when I go on tour I usually end up eating take-out burritos in my hotel room, because eating alone is boring and takes all the fun out of it. This is doubly ridiculous given that my signings are usually full of friendly people who love to talk about books and writing and such. So: what I want to do this time is work out some lunches and dinners with all you awesome folks. You show me your favorite restaurants, we’ll yak about whatever, and we’ll have a grand old time. Note that this is all dutch–I’m not asking you to buy me food, just join me. Sound awesome? Let’s do it! Post here or contact me through dan AT fearfulsymmetry DOT net,and we’ll start setting this up. Note that if you live in Seattle (April 1-3), Portland (April 4-7) or Minneapolis (April 22-23) I’ll be there an extra day or two not mentioned on the schedule above. Also note that dinner in San Francisco is already claimed by Seanan McGuire, who has a machete collection, so don’t mess with her and/or don’t wonder why I disappear halfway through the tour.

Signing: Murder By the Book, Houston

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

2342 Bissonnet St.
Houston, TX, 77005