Hey, everyone! I’m relieved and excited to say that I have finished my installment in the Infinity Ring series, which is book #5, and will be out this fall. This series has been so fun to work on. Books 1 and 2, by James Dashner and Carrie Ryan, have both been bestsellers, and I’m so thrilled for them. They really got the story off with a bang. A couple more things I’m excited about:
Lisa McMann’s book 3, The Trap Door, just came out last week, and I hope everyone goes out to pick up a copy. If you want a taste, click here to read an excerpt.
The online game that accompanies it involves Samurai and Ninjas, or in other words, it’s made of awesome. Click here to check it out.
Finally, the Infinity Ring message boards are now live, so click here to visit them, and if you’ve read the books, be sure to leave a comment. The folks at Scholastic are really excited to hear from fans.
That’s all the news for now. (Except, I’ve read Matt de la Peña’s book 4, and it’s amazing!)
I’ve been very, very busy lately, and I’m just poking my head up for a moment to say that yes, I am alive, before dropping back under. (Although. I am on twitter, now, and I am able to update there a lot more frequently than here, FYI.) In the past few weeks I’ve written the bulk of the first book in the Quantum League series, and now I have to switch gears to write my installment in the Infinity Ring series. So I’m going from a magical-heist novel, to Golden Age Baghdad, and I’m having way too much fun with both of them.
Before I go, I just want to say a few things.
First, if you have emailed me in the last few weeks (or *ahem* months) I’m sorry if I haven’t gotten back with you. I hope to get caught up on my email soon, but I’ve been saying that for a while now.
Second, I am behind on a few things people are expecting from me, and have been expecting for quite some time. You know who you are. Thank you very much for your patience.
Third, Icefall will be out in paperback on February 1st (officially – you’ll probably spot it before then), and the ebook price has dropped recently as well. Just in time for Christma- Oh, wait…
Now that I have said those things…
Do you remember the 12 year old composer I’ve mentioned before? Well, he just won first place in the student competition of the National Association of Composers for a piece inspired by the green violin in The Clockwork Three! Here is his acceptance, and a performance of the piece.
And here are some more wintery photos from the last couple of weeks. First, a couple of the lake by my house:
And one of Muppet, who treats snow like Scrooge McDuck treats his money bin:
And a couple of deer, as photographed from my bedroom window, hence the slight blurriness:
And finally, the other day we left the house, a single Oreo in its plastic sleeve on the kitchen counter, and we came home to this. There was no one home but the cat. I think Oreos should include “No opposable thumbs necessary!” on their packaging.
I’m honored and pleased to announce that Icefall has won the 2012 PEN Center USA Literary Award for Children’s Literature! I continue to be humbled and touched by the attention Icefall has received. As I’ve talked about many times, Solveig and her story are very close and personal to me, and I love that the book has resonated with others. Congratulations to the other finalists, including Trent Reedy for Words in the Dust, Allen Say for Drawing from Memory, and Gretchen Woelfle for All the World’s a Stage: A Novel in Five Acts. One of the judges for this year’s award did a write up here. I look forward to going to the banquet to receive the award next month.
Last month, James Dashner’s Infinity Ring Book 1: A Mutiny in Time came out in bookstores, and I was fortunate enough to be there for the big launch in Salt Lake City on August 29th. James did a couple of school visits that day, and I went along with him. We went to Canyon Rim and Rowland Hall, and both schools were a blast (in spite of the fact that James told the kids I was a serial killer. I mean, look at this picture:
Now tell me, which of us looks more like a serial killer?) It was a special treat going to Rowland Hall, because the librarian there, fellow author Becky Hall, was once my 5th grade teacher at Uintah Elementary.
I love doing school visits. More so now, I think because the school year has started and I’m not working with the kids on a daily basis anymore. It’s been a bit odd for me. Even though I am so excited to be writing full-time, a part of me misses it.
After the school visits, Jennifer Nielsen joined us for the launch event at the Salt Lake City Public Library, hosted by the amazing folks at The King’s English. At the event, I told the audience that The King’s English is the heart of the writing community in Utah, and I meant it. During the event, James, Jen, and I did a reader’s theater, each taking one of the three main characters in the Infinity Ring, with special guest Brodi Ashton as the narrator.
And afterward, we signed books and posters. Those who came were able to get both signed by all three of us:
The event reminded me of a few of things. First, how fun it is to be involved in something like The Infinity Ring, with such talented writers and friends. Second, how amazing it is that three of the six Infinity Ring authors are from Utah. And third, how much I miss the people with whom I have formed such meaningful relationships while I lived in Utah.
Thanks again to the Salt Lake Library, The King’s English (especially Rachel!), and Chris and Charisse from Scholastic for putting together such a great event.
This post has been a long time coming, but I do still want to talk about some of the trips I took last fall. One of the things I’ve loved most about my writing career has been the opportunity to travel, to meet new people and have wonderful experiences I wouldn’t otherwise get to have. So without further ado…
I went for the trade-show of the Pacific Northwest Independent Booksellers Association, and was reminded of what amazing people booksellers are. Seriously, for anyone who likes books, it doesn’t get much better than spending time with people who are passionate about getting them into the hands of readers. As part of my events there, I also got to spend time with Allen Say, whose new Drawing from Memory is absolutely wonderful. Allen, by the way, has the smooth and resonant kind of voice that you can listen to all day. He can be saying anything, really. Kind of like when Oprah asked Anthony Hopkins to read the phone book. While in Portland, I also got to spend time with two friends, Danielle Jones and Kimball Fisher, and it was nice to catch up. Danielle took me to Burgerville, a locally sourced, sustainable, and environmentally conscious restaurant chain, and I think it was the first fast-food I’ve eaten without feeling guilty.
The Tweens Read Book Festival was fantastic. The people in charge did an amazing job organizing, and I think it was a great success for its first year. Plus, I got to hear Richard Peck speak, and that is something for which I will go well out of my way. I’ve heard him speak a couple of times before, and the man blows the roof off every time. I carry around several quotes of his in my head. I think my favorite is, “We write by the light of every book we’ve ever read.” But coming in behind that is a new favorite: “Unless you find yourself early in the pages of a book, you will go looking for yourself in all the wrong places.” Brilliant. Here’s a video with some pictures of the event.
I’d already been to Denver earlier in the year, but I went back for several school visits over the course of a few days. The whole trip was put together by Boulder Country Day School’s librarian Melinda Elzinga, and she made my first out-of-state school visits an absolute delight. Everything was well-planned and organized, there were no panic moments, and it all came off without a hitch. Well, except for the part where I tripped over my laptop’s power cord and ripped the power-port right out, leaving me without a laptop for my presentations (fortunately, that happened near the end of my trip). I went to several different schools, including Dawson, the Montessori School of Denver, Friends’ School (which wasn’t a Quaker school as I had assumed) and finally a book fair signing for Graland.
They did something really cool at Melinda’s school, where they teach Latin to the upper grades. They had taken several of the Latin phrases from The Clockwork Three and taped them up in the hallways for the students to translate.
Their Latin teacher had also picked up on the fact that I used Medieval Latin in the book instead of classical Latin. That was actually a conscious choice on my part, one of those little details we writers use and wonder if anyone will even notice. But someone did, and that was gratifying. Thanks again to my brother, Josh, a real-life Renaissance Man, for providing the translations.
The only sightseeing I had time for outside the school visits was a tour of the Celestial Seasonings factory in Boulder. That was a lot of fun, in a Willy Wonka kind of way. I mean, they have a Peppermint Room there, and when you walk into it you get hit with this wall of peppermint that you feel in your nose and makes your eyes water. If you’re ever in Boulder, I recommend the tour. I also stopped back by The Bookies and said hello. Love that store.
I went to NCTE for the first time in November. It has a similar vibe to ALA in that it’s an enormous group of people who are all passionate about books and literacy. I was there for five very busy days. The first couple of days I did school visits, and here I would just like to take a moment to say how much I love doing school visits. To begin with, since schools are where I work, I feel right at home in them. And something else my job has done is inoculate me against any fear of a group of kids, even a large group of kids. I actually enjoy the energy of a big assembly with two or three hundred students. I really don’t get nervous at all, and I thank my job as a school psychologist for that. The other great thing about school visits are all the wonderful things students do to make you feel welcome. Like banners and posters…
…and even violin performances!
I hope to keep doing lots more school visits in the future (if you’re interested, feel free to contact me with the link in the sidebar).
At NCTE I was on a panel talking about revision and peer critique. I gave a big shout-out to my own intrepid critique group, and how they help me every week. (Hm. I just realized that I haven’t talked much about them on the blog before. Have to remedy that.) Also on the panel were Kate Messner, Eric Luper, and Linda Urban, moderated by Denise Johnson.
I really appreciated what everyone on the panel had to say, since revision does not come naturally to me. As I said in my remarks, left to my own devices I am far more likely to go chasing after something new and shiny than I am to return to polish something a bit old and tarnished.
Another NCTE event I did was the Scholastic Literary Brunch with Sarah Weeks, Coe Booth, Jeff Hirsch, and Jen Nielsen.
I love this kind of thing because it allows you to hear an author’s words in their own voice, the way they heard them when they wrote them. It adds so much to the experience of their work when I hold their voice in my head as I read. Case in point, once you hear Coe Booth read from one of her novels, you won’t ever read it the same way again. Oh, and also, David Levithan does an absolutely hilarious impression of an attorney.
Readers' Theater with (L to R) David Levithan, Sarah Weeks, and Coe Booth
While in Chicago, I did a signing event at Anderson’s Bookstore with Trent Reedy, Kenneth Oppel, and Gordon Korman. We had a lot of fun, and afterward went out to a cajun restaurant where they seated us right next to the jazz band. It can be hard to carry on a conversation with a trumpet in your ear, but we gave it our best. I had the turtle soup, since I’d written about it in The Clockwork Three without having ever tasted it, and I figured I needed to at least once. I liked it, enough that I’ll order it again if I ever have the chance.
At the recommendation of my driver, I also stopped by with a few friends for some blues one night at Buddy Guy’s Legends. That was a blast.
One last thing before I move on from Chicago. I have to take a moment and talk about the hotel where we stayed, which was the fanciest hotel I’ve ever been in. To illustrate, when I first walked into the bathroom, I noticed a remote control on the counter by the sinks. I’d never seen a remote control in a bathroom, and I had to wonder what it controlled. So I just kind of held it up, hit the “on” button, and looked around. That’s when I noticed the TV come on in the mirror. Yes, a TV came on inside the mirror! I had that thing on the whole time I was getting ready in the morning because, well, if you have a TV in your mirror, how can you not use it?
Also, the room had an Eames Classic, AKA the chair I’d admired for years while watching Frasier.
I took a nap in it.
New York City
The trip to NYC was for Infinity Ring, which I already wrote about briefly after they announced the series. Aside from the stuff I talked about in that post, we got to see a demo of the 3D computer game (awesome!) that will be an integral part of the series, did some promotional photo and video shoots, and spent time with Scholastic’s sales reps. Also, one night David took us all to see Tiger Beat, the YA band fronted by Libba Bray, which was hilarious and a blast.
And I think that about catches me up. I don’t have too much going on for a little while. I’ll be in Boise in April, speaking at the SCBWI conference, and the week after that I think I’ll be back in NYC for the Edgar Awards Banquet. I’ll be sure to let you know how those trips go.
I’ve recently mentioned a secret project I’ve been involved with, and I am excited to finally announce it. But before I talk about it, The New York Times just ran a piece on it, which I would recommend reading first. You can find it here. If you want to track down the print version, it’s on the front page of the arts section.
Scholastic, the global children’s publishing, education and media company, and the pioneering force behind the groundbreaking and international bestselling The 39 Clues™ book series, expands its innovative multi-platform publishing program with the worldwide launch of Infinity Ring™, an alternate-history time travel series for readers ages 8-12. To be written by a team of six authors, this exciting new adventure combines books, an interactive “Hystorian’s Guide” map feature (named for a centuries-old secret society featured in the books), and a fully-immersive online game experience where readers travel back in time to fix history. Infinity Ring will launch simultaneously in September 2012 in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, with “Book 1: A Mutiny in Time,” written by New York Times bestselling author James Dashner (The Maze Runner), who also outlined the program’s overall story arc. Dashner will be followed by a team of bestselling and acclaimed authors including Carrie Ryan (Book 2; November 2012), Lisa McMann (Book 3; February 2013), Matt de la Peña (Book 4; June 2013), Matthew J. Kirby (Book 5; September 2013), and Jennifer A. Nielsen (Book 6; December 2013). The last book in the Infinity Ring series also will be written by James Dashner (Book 7; March 2014).
History is broken, and a long-feared Cataclysm seems imminent. The capital of the United States is Boston. Lincoln’s face is nowhere to be seen on Mount Rushmore. Everyone’s buzzing about the French royal wedding. And an international group of men and women known as the SQ is more powerful than kings, richer than nations, and more fearsome than armies. When best friends Dak Smyth and Sera Froste stumble upon the key to time travel – a hand-held device known as the Infinity Ring – they’re swept up in a centuries-long secret war for the fate of mankind. Recruited by the Hystorians, a secret society that dates back to Aristotle, the kids learn that history has gone completely, and disastrously, off-course. Now it’s up to Dak, Sera, and teenage Hystorian-in-training Riq to travel back in time to fix the “Great Breaks”… and to save Dak’s missing parents while they’re at it. First stop: Spain, 1492, where a sailor named Christopher Columbus is about to be thrown overboard in a deadly mutiny!
And if you want to read the full, official press release, it’s here.
Pretty amazing, isn’t it?
When I got the call from David Levithan a couple of months ago asking me if this was something I would be interested in, I told him that this was exactly my kind of project. I love alternate history, I love science fiction, and I love computer games. I grew up reading books and playing old-school Sierra games like King’s Quest, Hero’s Quest (tragically renamed Quest for Glory) and Space Quest. Putting books and computer games together? Infinity Ring is the kind of integrated story and multi-platform experience I wish had been around when I was a kid. So yes, I wasn’t just interested, I was absolutely thrilled to be a part of it.
I’m also honored to be working alongside James Dashner, Carrie Ryan, Lisa McMann, Matt de la Peña, and Jennifer Nielsen. Such an amazing gathering of talent. The experience of working with them on this story – creating, building, firing ideas back and forth – has been remarkable. We were all together in New York City a couple of weeks ago for the Scholastic sales conference, and we had the opportunity for a face-to-face brainstorming session. The creative energy in the room was palpable. And to top it off, we all get along really well, and though I always respected each of them as writers, I now count them as friends.
Clockwise from back row, left: Matt de la Peña, James Dashner, me, Jennifer Nielsen, Carrie Ryan, & Lisa McMann. Photo Credit: Ken Karp
There will be more details in the coming weeks and months, I’m sure. Check the official Infinity Ring website for news. But for now, I’m glad I can finally talk about it. Any questions?