Friday, October 25, 2013

About That Super Secret Special Holiday Project…


I guess -- before anyone gets too carried away by possibilities -- I’d better pull the sheet off and show you what lies beneath. Some of you will love this idea. Some of you will hate it. A number will think I’m crazy. And one or two people will throw a fit because it’s print only. 

Yes, it is going to be print only because it is not feasible, with the technology I currently possess, for this to be an ebook. Sorry. I’m not saying we won’t get there one day, but for now. Print only.

And what is this crazy print only endeavor I’m cooking up? It’s called Stranger Things Have Happened, and…well, it’s an Adrien English gamebook. As  in a Choose Your Own  Adventure novel. Only we call it a Write Your Own Damn Story novel.  

The gamebook is based on Fatal Shadows. It does not in any way tamper with the end of the series OR even the end of Fatal Shadows -- unless you choose for it to do so. If you want to follow the pre-existing plot for Fatal Shadows, it shall be so. But if you wonder what might have happened had Adrien skipped lunch at Claude’s and been in Cloak and Dagger when it was ransacked…well, you can choose that storyline. OR what if Adrien had decided to go sleuthing at the Ball and Chain leather club that Riordan frequented? You can choose that storyline. Or maybe you wonder what would have happened if a pirate ship had suddenly appeared on the horizon? Yes, there is that storyline too. 

Now as in any CYOA story, these are just brief explorations of possibilities, but I think you’ll find them as amusing as I do writing them.

I'm hoping to have it available for order in time for Christmas. Buuuut things are starting to get pretty chaotic at Chez Lanyon (and we haven't even made it through Thanksgiving yet). So...mid to late December is probably the reality.
 

Here’s a taste:

 

Cops before breakfast. Before coffee even. As if Mondays aren’t bad enough.

 

After last night it’s not a total surprise.

            Oh, but first things first. You are a thirty-two-year-old Los Angeles bookstore owner. You’re reasonably successful despite the fact that these are hard times for indie bookstores, and you recently sold your first novel Murder Will Out to a small press. That’s about it for your professional life. Your personal life…well, you don’t have a personal life, let’s face it.

            Your college sweetheart walked out years ago because you’ve got a bum ticker and he didn’t want to take a chance on getting saddled with, well, you. Not that he didn’t love you and everything.

            Did I mention you are gay?

            Anyway.

            Cops. Standing outside Cloak and Dagger Books at this very second—crowding the welcome mat and leaning on the buzzer.

            For God’s sake. It’s not even seven in the morning. Whatever this is, it’s not good news.

You stumble downstairs, unlock the glass front doors, shove back the ornate security gate and let them in: two plainclothes detectives.

They identify themselves with a show of badges. Detective Chan is older, paunchy, a little rumpled, smelling of Old Spice and cigarettes as he brushes by you. The other one, Detective Riordan, is big and blond, with a neo-Nazi haircut and tawny eyes. Your gut clenches as you meet those cold, light eyes. Call it instinct. Call it premonition.

            “I’m afraid we have some bad news for you, Mr. English,” Detective Chan says.

     You already know what he’s going to say. His face—that professionally neutral expression—is a giveaway. You don’t risk another look at Riordan. He makes you nervous though you’re not normally the nervous type. You head for your office in the back of the bookstore, and you keep walking as Chan finishes, “…concerning an employee of yours. A Mr. Robert Hersey.”

            The cops tell you that Robert, who in addition to being your employee is your oldest—and once closest—friend, has been stabbed to death in the alley behind his West Hollywood apartment.

            That’s the bad news. There is no good news. They start asking you questions about your relationship with Robert. You stick to the bare facts as much as possible and volunteer no information. You’ve been selling mystery novels long enough to know that much.

“Were you lovers?” Chan glances at Riordan. Riordan must be the guy in charge.

“No.”

“But you are homosexual?” Riordan never blinks, his gaze never veers.

“I’m gay. What of it?”

“And Hersey was homosexual?” In a minute they’re going to bring up the argument at the Blue Parrot. You consider refusing to answer any more questions without your lawyer present. But that’s liable to look guilty, right? That’s what the cops on TV always say.

You keep fencing and they keep probing, trying to find the weak spot in your defense, and then finally—FINALLY—they leave, promising to keep in touch. That’s copspeak for you’re not fooling anyone, English. Before he walks out the door, that asshole Riordan picks up an empty Tab can and throws it in the wrong trash bin. Well, when you own the entire fucking planet, you don’t need to worry about recycling.

 

 

 

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­_________________________________________

 

If you decide to immediately call your lawyer, turn to page 10

If you decide a shower and some coffee would be a good idea, turn to page 14

 

 

 

What do you think? Even the simplest decisions might now change the fates of Adrien English and Jake Riordan. YOU DECIDE. 

And just to add to the fun and festivities, the wonderfully talented Catherine Dair is supplying art for the cover AND a few illustrations. Here’s a peek at the gorgeous cover panel.
 
 

114 comments:

  1. Oh, this is precious! Way cooler than anything I expected or hoped for! :-D My thoughts started to run amok with possibilities the second you asked the first "What if...?" question. I wonder what you're going to put them through... Pirate ship? Really? *rofl*
    Looking very much forward to this one! :-)

    (Is it me going crazy or what that I hear the snippet you posted read in Chris Patton's voice in my head...?^^)

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    1. I know! If there was a way to do an audio CYOA, I'd hire Chris in a heartbeat. ;-)

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  2. This is BRILLIANT!!! And no wonder it has kept you busy for a looooong time. What a fun, ambitious and wonderful project! You brave man, you!!! Take your time with it, don't stress if it won't be available before Christmas, because... whenever this book comes out IT WILL BE CHRISTMAS. No matter if it's in the middle of July.

    And Catherine, if you are reading this, the cover is awesome. Can't wait to see the other illustrations!

    Hugs, hugs, hugs. :-)

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    1. Thank you! I hope you like the inside illustrations just as much. (I rather suspect you will). ;)

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    2. It's insanely complicated, and I should have started months earlier, but even so I'm really having a lot of fun with it.

      Catherine's work is beautiful. I'm thrilled to have her on this project.

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  3. That sounds SO fun! Definitely on my Christmas list.

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    1. I *think* it will be. I really do think a lot of you will love it.

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  4. What an awesome idea! This must have been SO difficult to put together! I guessed the super secret project was Adrien and Jake related, but had no idea it would be this creative and fun! The cover is gorgeous, Adrien looks so hot, wowza :)
    On a side note: (and don't take this as disappointment, just a question, because I really am excited for this) Will Adrien and Jake ever get a follow up novella? I ask because I just finished my reread of the series and I am desperate for more of them, it doesn't even have to be a lot :) I just want a peek into their life together since they are a real OUT couple. I actually thought your surprise was an Adrien and Jake Christmas short or novella (longer then the coda).
    But Josh, this sounds amazing, and even though I'm an ebook girl now, I can see how impossible that could be and I will definitely be buying this.

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    1. It's crazy complicated and we haven't even got to the formatting point yet. :-D

      Oh! Yes, there will still eventually be a follow up novella. Not this year, but I haven't forgotten I promised that.

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    2. As long as I know we will get it eventually, I'm happy :)

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  5. Holy cow! That's a great project.

    You know I won't complain at all if it is print only ;-))

    BTW: when I read the sentence ''If you decide to immediately...'' my head was ending it with ''...preorder it, here is the link''.

    Thank you in advance for the wonderful Christmas gift. Don't get stressed though!

    Ciao

    Antonella

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    1. I do really wish I'd started it earlier, but it's a lot of fun. At least, I'm certainly amusing myself. I *hope* everyone else will have as much fun.

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  6. This is the coolest project ever!!! with the most awesome cover ever!!! And! i think it will be a perfect book to have in print. One of the joys of CYOA books is that browsing back and forth and maybe reading it together with someone, it's such a fun experience. So :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-)

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    1. I do think it's ideal for print -- especially with the art. I love your idea of sharing it with someone.

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  7. Wow, this is so exciting! I can't imagine how much work it is. I've always been fascinated by the idea of parallel worlds resulting from different decisions (I think I said this in a comment on one of your earlier posts), and it sounds as though this is the embodiment of it. Can't wait, and print-only is fine with me.
    And like Calathea I can only hear Chris Patton's voice when I read Jake now. Bliss.)

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    1. That's one of the most interesting aspects -- considering why I made so many of the plot choices I did in the original story versus some things I would do differently now.

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  8. So COOL! Yep, paper or not I'm gettin' it!

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  9. Definitely 'go sleuthing at the Ball and Chain leather club that Riordan frequented', haha. Oh, this is so exciting!!! I've never really owned a CYOA book before. I so don't mind buying it in print! :D Can't imagine the amount of work involved in working out such a huge project. Will it be the first gay CYOA book? ;-)

    (Right now I'm listening to Poets of the Fall, a band you recommended somewhere, and I just love love love 'Carnival of Rust'! Don't know whether Rodriguez's up your alley, but his 'Sandrevan Lullaby - Lifestyles' is so beautiful my heart practically stopped the first time I heard it.)

    So looking forward to another great work of yours, Josh! Time just seems to run too fast for you and too slowly for me, haha. :-)

    Savanna

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    1. It's funny how that works out! ;-)

      No, there are other gay CYOA books -- at least one that I know of. It's called Escape From Fire Island, I think. :-)

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  10. Josh, you never cease to amaze! As busy as you are, the mind boggles that this is how you would choose to give us the "Adrien & Jake Holiday project". You talent is endless, and your readers are the grateful recipients.

    A CYOA book definitely has to be in print. To go back and forth in an ebook is suicide-making. And especially with illustrations by the wonderful Catherine Dair!

    I thought your DOAPK Audible book was doing well. The release of this book, whenever it happens, will fly off the shelves so fast, it surely will leave all your past records in the dust!

    I am congratulating you already for a magnificent book. You are world-class in every way possible!

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    1. :-D Thank you, Susan. I'm sure it is possible to do an electronic version of a CYOA, but I just don't begin to have the technology. It's hard enough keeping it all straight on paper!

      Plus, I agree that the CYOA format really probably works best in a physical format. All that back and forthing would be crazy in an ebook.

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  11. That would be hard to make an ebook of that, I'd think. I like this way of exploring the what if's. But CYOA terrified me when I was young--I kept choosing the ending where "you die, the end."

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    1. Well, not to put the pressure on, but choose wrong and Adrien does indeed die. :-D

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    2. No!! I'd never even heard of CYOA books before you used them as chapter intros, and I certainly didn't know death was an option. I call you out on the rules (1) romances, even romantic mysteries, have to have HEA or at least HFN and (2) you can't kill any main character.

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    3. I fear the CYOA paradigm trumps all! Adrien's life is in your hands!!!

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  12. Wonderful! Will definitely buy.

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  13. Really great idea and I will defo be buying this. Is there going to be any more artwork in the book?

    Karen xx

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    1. Yes. We're planning on four interior illustrations. Hopefully in color. That's what we're shooting for. I cannot WAIT for you guys to see what Catherine has done.

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  14. Oh wow, this is amazing Josh! I'm so excited.

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  15. 1. That is a really cool idea, and I will buy it as soon as it becomes available.

    2. I think it's technically feasible to do a choose-your-own-adventure eBook, but I do not know how exactly to make that happen. I will be doing research to figure it out -- because how cool is that?

    3. My inner 12-year-old is completely thrilled.

    Yay!

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    1. Yes this should actually be fairly easy to do in an ebook because ebooks can use links. Simply change the "turn to page" to "click here" and add the proper coding. It could be done with a text editor and Calibre.

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    2. I know it is possible, because I've checked out a few of them. But they haven't worked very well, so I'm not sold on the idea. A lot of times the links go to the wrong place or see to hang up. :-(

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    3. Huh. I don't see why it would be any different than the table of contents. Now you've got me wanting to play around with it. ;-)

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    4. Well, even table of contents have issues sometimes, and you're talking maybe a hundred links, two and three to any given page. It's complicated. Not impossible for someone who knows what they're doing, but definitely complicated. And there's the art, which is another thing I don't know how to get into an ebook. It's just complicated.

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    5. Well that's why you send it off to one of your geeky readers to figure out while you keep writing! :-D

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    6. Well, maybe so! We'll see. We're still weeks away from formatting. GULP.

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  16. You had me at the cover. I knew l will love it before l even read the sample now l can't wait. That is one beautiful art work.

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    1. The art *makes* the project, in my opinion. I'm so happy about joining forces with Catherine.

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  17. AHHHHHH!!!! I KNEW IT! I knew when I read the excerpt in Man Oh Man it would be a CYOA!

    ILLUSTRATIONS????? OMG.

    Please, just take my money now before I pass out from excitement. :-D

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    1. LOL I will wait to take your money, but I thank you for the thought. :-D

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  18. Oh, what a wonderful idea! I can't wait to play with the different outcomes!

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    1. I think it appeals to the kid in all of us. ;-D

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  19. I LOVE THIS!!!!! Way cool, and with illustrations too! Oh, this is going to be so much fun...what a fantastic gift to your fans for the Christmas season, Thanks!

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    1. I'm so happy you guys are excited and not disappointed. I can't even tell you!

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  20. The ebook version would need to an interactive one - maybe you can do an app for it!

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    1. Oh my God. Me the technological walking disaster area.
      :-D It would be so cool though, I agree.

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  21. Wow, what a cool idea! This is going to be fun!

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    1. I really do think so. I mean, maybe my sense of humor is getting the better of me, but it's a lot of fun exploring possibilities.

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  22. holy hell! where is the pre order? Would love graphic novel... the more pictures the better :) but this will do for now ;)

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  23. Very talented artist indeed, yet...Chan is supposed to be paunchy, Jake definitely broader, is that what a neo-nazi haircut looks like (no?) and isn't Adrien rail thin? I don't imagine him with a sixpack. It would have been nice to see that.

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    1. Well, you know, this is kind of a fantasy, so everyone gets to look their best. :-)

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    2. But Jake is supposed to be thicker and broader right?

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    3. Yes, he is...but he's in profile so that's a bit harder to tell (a perspective issue). He's also wearing a jacket. I think you'll find him inside just as broad and muscular as you picture him. ;-)

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  24. Ooooh yessss! This going on Santa list! After Xmas is fine, I'll wait. Fantastic artwork too. She got Adrien just how I see him. :-D

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    1. We're all doing out best to hit that holiday mark, but a project like this...so much can go wrong. But it is definitely going to happen!

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  25. Sounds like tons of fun. Going on my Christmas list for sure.

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  26. I have no more shelf space! But for you, Josh, I'll make space. Always. Besides, this is something I'd definitely want in print. OMG, this is going to be awesome! Part of me can't believe you put in a part where he dies. The other part of me is thinking, of course you did. Why wouldn't you? lol.

    Thank you for this! Anytime you get it finished will be fine, even if it's not ready for Christmas.

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    1. Well, gotta be faithful to the CYOA dynamic and that means bad choices = bad outcomes. :-D

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  27. Oh wow! Definitely looking forward to this despite serious trepidations - I really like Adrien alive. On the other hand I always wanted to see what would have happened without Adrien doing his TSTL act. Maybe now I'll find out.

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    1. Make the right choices and he stays alive. In fact, he stays alive with even some of the wrong choices. :-)

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  28. I always feared the CYOA books because I couldn't take the pressure. No death for the holidays, ok? :P lol. Seriously, what a crazy fun idea. :D I hope you had as much enjoyment creating this project as it seems we will have reading. The art work is amazing, btw. Kudos.

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  29. Replies
    1. Is that what they mean by the phrase, 'cheating death?'
      I'm not so sure about that. ;)

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  30. This.. is one heck of a task. Pretty damn amazing though!

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    1. It's definitely even bigger and more complex project than I thought.

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  31. HOW.MUCH.FUN.IS.THIS? I love this idea...very cool and inventive! Merry Christmas to meeeee! ����

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    1. Well, bummer...my cute Christmas tree and Christmas present icons just published as question marks. :-(

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    2. Well, I do hope it is A. LOT. ;-)

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  32. Just when I was re-reading your books, I find this post. Definitely intrigued and of course will be thoroughly anticipating this. You are awesome Josh! :D

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  33. I LOVED the CYOA books!!! The Edward Packard and Ellen Kushner books were my faves. I'm definitely excited about this project. My heart sank a little bit when I found out I have to order it in print, but that's only because I don't live in the US and it could mean I have to wait a little longer than everyone else to get my copy. But wow, this is wonderful! Definitely looking forward to it.

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    1. What? Ellen Kushner did CYOA???

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    2. She did! I remember her "Statue of Liberty Adventure" as being one of my faves back then.

      Outlaws of Sherwood Forest (August, 1985)
      The Enchanted Kingdom (May, 1986)
      Statue of Liberty Adventure (July, 1986)
      Mystery of the Secret Room (December, 1986)
      Knights of the Round Table (December, 1988)

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    3. Those are great! I love that you remember titles.

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  34. Oh what fun! With illustrations too!!! This will definitely be my first printed Josh Lanyon book and my first CYOA book too.

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    1. Well, if you're going to break down and buy print, this is probably the best bet. :-)

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  35. Oh wow! I was not expecting something this big. I'm getting exited thinking of all the possibilities hehe. Adrien sleuthing at Ball and Chain? *faints*

    December can't come fast enough. ^_^

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    1. I wasn't planning anything this ambitious either. It just sort of happened! But I think it will be fun. I'm certainly having fun with it.

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  36. I've never had a CYOA book before, so this is exciting! Can't wait Josh, it sounds like fun!

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  37. It's a little weird to imagine reading a CYOA book when you already know what 'really' happens but it sound like an amazing idea. When I was little my neighbor gave me a box of her kid's old CYOA books and I loved them like crazy so I will have to get this. I always meant to try writing one but I can almost never manage to finish normal stories so...that's a someday project.

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    1. It's a lot more complicated than I had anticipated, but of course that's probably what will make it fun. I hope so anyway!

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  38. I had never even heard of CYOA books until I read '...Yellow Sands' and I know I will love this book as I love all your stories. Thank You for sharing your inside charaters with us. P.S. I thought the Christmas Codas were going to come out in print, is this going to happen? I have all your stories on ebook and print (except for two) again thank you :)

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    1. I am going to collect the codas. I'm not sure about print. Did I say they would be in print? I can't recall now.

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    2. YES! Print please!...Along with "The Parting Glass"...Nothing is as good as a paperback/Hardcover book...

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  39. I think this is a cute idea, but I am disappointed we won't have a sequel story - I was hoping for something international... maybe involving spies or something :)

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    1. We'll have some kind of holiday follow up next year. I don't know about spies! ;-D

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  40. I LOVE THIS! Reading Swift's book got me nostalgic for the CYOA books I had as a kid. Very much looking forward to getting this! And I am so very impressed with your ability to break the plot down into all it's possibilities. You must be exhausted. ;)

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    1. It is a lot more complicated than I had anticipated, but some of the complications are very fun. There are big possibilities and there are little possibilities. And sometimes the littlest changes have the most drastic results.

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  41. I hope there's an option to kick Riordan in the nads. That would make this give me some deep satisfaction.

    I'm obviously buying this either way, but that would be my one true Christmas wish.

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    1. There are certainly some interesting possibilities. ;-)

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  42. Wow! Sounds like fun. And, after a scan of the site, looks like I have some catching up to do.

    Happy Spooky Day, Josh! Don't eat too much candy, unless it's chocolate!

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    1. My first Halloween ever where I didn't have so much as bite of chocolate. :-(

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  43. I have a bad history with CYOA books, since I always seemed to get the worst endings as a result of completely arbitrary choices. Also, I'm ambivalent about CYOA book set in a series with an established 'canon' (well, maybe not so established anymore :P). But despite my rainy parade, I hope you had an awesome time writing this! [Also, this reminded me of something called Twine. Maybe it'd help you organize any future projects like this. http://www.auntiepixelante.com/twine/ ]

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    1. There are certainly many ways for things to go very, very wrong.

      Thanks for the link!

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  44. Whoa. Adrien has a killer six pack. hommina-hommina...
    P.S. I love this.
    P.P.S. I once wrote a choose your own adventure when I was nine. It was called "mission to the moon". One option allows you to go to the dark side of the moon where there are nothing but unicorns. Every option kills you. I'm glad I haven't changed much as a person.

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    1. I love that all the possibilities led to death. :-D

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  45. I loved these as a kid although I couldgget a little obsessed with trying to work out every option possible. What a different idea, this will be fun!

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    1. I hope so! I'm trying to make it fun rather than weird. I guess it is a bit of both!

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  46. OH, you are REALLY going to fill in all the What IF's? I can't wait. Print is good. I love actually holding a book. I've re read the Adrien English series several times and would love more and more and, let's face it, even more after that!.

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    1. I don't know about all of them, because there are a LOT of possibilities, but I'm trying to come up with enough variations on a theme to keep readers smiling.

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  47. I don't get all the weeping about a print book. I prefer them to ebooks any day. Ever taken your Kindle or Ipad into the bath with you? Trust me - don't. As to content, talk about the possibilities: I'm scared about anything that kills off Adrian - but this will be incredible fun. I can punish Riordan (hopefully) for being such a jerk. In the past, when I've done really good CYOA reading I get two books - it really helps. The cost is still far less than a movie and you get to keep it and do it over and over again. Wonderful Christmas present, Josh. Thanks.

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    1. You're very welcome!

      I still love print. I still buy print, depending on the book. But I get that ebooks are easier and cheaper and it's not that I'm deliberately being obstructive. I have no doubt we will eventually come up with a digital version, but I don't want the pressure -- can't take the pressure, if I am honest -- of trying to come up with it by the launch date. It's just more than I can handle right now -- I don't have those resources lined up.

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  48. OMG!!! I love choose-your-own-adventure books!!!! This is about the best thing that has happened this year!!! I'm so exited!!! I just hope the shipping won't take ages (I'm from Germany). Will it be available on Amazon? Is there going to be an option where they end up having sex? ^o^

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    1. I'm so glad! It will definitely be available on Amazon, though you know it takes Amazon a little bit of time to get everything sorted out. But it will be -- I think!!! -- lots of fun.

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