Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

My late, great black cat, Champ and his Jack-O-Lantern

My Horrid Halloween Poem
(a small present to my patient readers)

T'was the night of the spirits, when all through the streets
Ran pirates and gremlins with bags for their sweets; 
The pumpkins were carved into shapes grim with care,
In hopes that some ghosts soon would be there;

The children were trundled all snug in disguise,
While visions of goblins danced in their eyes;
And Mama in her bat wings and Dad in his fangs,
Had just settled down to greet the small gangs. 
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
They sprang from their seats to see what was the matter.

Away to the front door they flew like a flash,
Tore open the deadbolt and held out their stash.
The moon on the crest of the newly mowed lawn
Gave lustre of midnight to five devil's spawn.
When what to their wondering eyes should appear,
But a great ghastly demon that struck them with fear.

With a head of a werewolf and hands fully clawed,
They knew in a moment it had to be Maude.
More stealthy than vampires her steps on they came
And growling and gnashing, she called them by name.

"Now Lester! Now, Edith!  Don't be alarmed!
I'm here for the candy and not to do harm!"
To the edge of the porch, and into the light
She held out her claws and grinned at their fright.

As dry leaves that before a wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up t'ward the full moon old Maudy did rise,
With her treats and her goodies,
And still in disguise.

And then, in a twinkling, they heard overhead
The prancing and pawing of eight hooves of dread.
As they locked up their door, and prayed this would end
Down the chimney old Maudy came with a friend.
He was covered in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his face was all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of candy he had flung on his back, 
And he looked like a zombie ready to snack.

His eyes--how they sizzled! His glare a great menace.
His teeth were like scissors; he needed a dentist.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the treat bowls; then turned with a jerk,
And grasping their arms, he shook them and said,
"Happy H-day to all, a great day of the DEAD!"

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wednesday Special--A Ghost Story. Really

Bish Denham made me do this. Thanks Bish and thanks for your super RANDOM THOUGHTS  GIVEAWAY.

I don’t believe in ghosts. I don’t. Really. But . . .

Our house was built in the 1930’s as a mountain cabin for people from San Francisco who wanted to escape the city and live among the redwoods. We remodeled it when we moved in, adding a couple of rooms and reconfiguring the entrances and exits. I’m telling you this because it’s important to my story.

A few years ago things started appearing on stairs, on counters, and always in the original parts of the house. A red scarf came first and I asked every one of my friends who’d visited in the previous month if it was theirs.


I finally gave it away and forgot about it. I wouldn't have remembered it at all, except a few months later, I tripped over a pile of combs and ribbons on the stairs up to my bedroom. These hair ornaments weren't mine, and I’m the only female who lives here. Still I discounted it. There had to be a logical explanation.

Then one day I went to put on my favorite pearl earrings and there was only one in my jewelry box. I searched. I cleaned drawers. I accused my family of playing tricks on me and trying to make me think I was losing it. First things appeared, and then they disappeared!

After three years passed, I decided that earring was gone forever, so I had a jeweler make a matching one for me. I brought the two earrings home, opened my jewelry box to put them safely away, and there in the drawer was my long lost pearl earring.

I don’t know how to explain why I have three pearl earrings, but I do. Nothing else has happened for years, but a friend who spent the night in the old bedroom swears a ghost visited him. He’d never heard my stories. He’s also never spent the night with us again.
Stop by. Say hi.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday Miscellany-Drum Roll for the Creepy Cake 'N Bake

The Creepy Cake 'N Bake has seen some darned good entries. Here are few to refresh your memory and to give you a chance to click on the caption and visit these super authors. Just don't forget MINE! You know the blogger you LOVE? And don't forget to follow along as the last few entries arrive! What to win and the way to win it is at the bottom of this post. Hope you'll join in the creepiness and have some fun.


Spooky Sugary Spiders

Red Velvet Cardiac Event

Coven  of Cupcakes
Sugary Spider
Eyeball Cupcakes

Witchy Cake

The Creepy Cake N Bake-a-Thon is ON! Vote for your favorite entry by commenting below. You can comment on EVERY Cake N Bake post, one entry per post, for a chance to win a $20 gift certificate from Barnes and Noble or an official Creepy Cake N Bake doll! Please include your email in order to be entered to win.

Trophies will be awarded on Halloween for the top creeptastic creations. Winners will be chosen by our special Celebrity Judge, Adam Rex, author of such deliciously creepy creations such as FAT VAMPIRE, FRANKENSTEIN TAKES THE CAKE, FRANKENSTEIN MAKES A SANDWICH, and PSSST!

Since this is Monday Miscellany, I have to also say that the WRITECAMPAIGN is on it's last CHALLENGE! Those entries are amazing. And you should stop by and give your vote to the one you like best. I'm having trouble deciding.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

In The Throes of Thursday--Why Zombies?

Question: What's scarier than an a Zombie? 
Answer: Two Zombies.

Unfortunately, when there's one there's never only two; Zombies come in hoards and you don't have to go looking for them either. They'll find you. (Insert scary scream here.)

And people can't seem to get enough of those ghastly, grim vacant creatures. Why is that?
I guess it's because we love to be scared.

Vampires used to do that job, but then movies like Love at First Bite came out, and then someone wrote a book about a gentle, lovesick vampire that also happened to be hunk. How can anyone be scared by George Hamilton or Robert Pattinson? Vampires might as well be bunnies now--not the Monte Python type bunny.

As a writer, I used to wonder how many Zombie books would make too many, but now I know. There will never be too many. The reason is simple. The stories of flesh eating monsters aren't about the flesh eating monsters at all. They're all about the humans who have to deal with them and how that traumatic experience affects those who are alive.

Will timid Maxwell suddenly find his courage and race to rescue Sarah, the girl who makes fun of him, from certain death?

Will Jasper, the hunky star quarterback, run away terrified, leaving his girl friend as the killer hoard approaches?

Will the school's low-life be the one to devise the plan that saves the auditorium filled with trapped students?

Just look at the tension those questions produce.  I guess writing a book with Zombies is a great idea if you want to reveal the true nature of your characters by putting them into tense and testing situations. However, if you'd rather just write about bunnies, there's room for that too. Or think outside of the box and be the first to write a Bunny-Zombie sort of book. Oh wait! It may be too late. One's already been made into a movie.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Monday Miscellany-SemiPantsers

Last week during #YALitChat Wednesday the forever lasting question about the Pantser v Plotter came up. I wrote: "I'm a SemiPantser." And guess what? Several others on the chat said they were too. So that started me thinking (Oh, no. Not that!). But what makes a SemiPantser? My guess is a lot of different writing approaches that don't involve setting out a plot, character bios, etc. before starting a book.

In my mind, a Pantser jumps right in. They love the excitement of coming up with a new idea, meeting those characters, and then bringing them to life on the page. All of that sends them full steam ahead into the W.I.P. With this approach there's the danger of running out of that steam about half-way through. Maybe the story simply fades or the characters become inconsistent or flat. On the other hand, that impulse to create something new and fresh without "over thinking" it can propel a story through a first draft.

But what if you straddle the P v P writer life? What if you use some of those Plotter devices to support your Pantser instincts?

I guess I wanted to know, so I started a #semipantser group on Twitter and I created a semipantser circle on Google+ in hopes those of us who aren't in either camp 100% would share what they do. If you're one of us, hope your join and add your voice to this middle-of-the-road group.

The Creepy Cake N Bake has taken over this week.  Here's Michelle Zinc's entry and it so good. Rats! Double Rats! I wanted so much to win and with each entry my hope fades.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

In the Throes of Thursday-Intuitions

I have this bridge and it's really cheap.
Anyone ever "just know" something, but not have "evidence" that what you're feeling is true?  We call that intuition. And how many of you follow those feelings even when you're confronted with facts that point in the opposite direction?

 So often I can look back at a situation and recall that I should have paid attention to what that tiny inner voice was telling me. "He's not telling the truth." "That's not the right thing to do." "Choose the red one."

A book titled Blink that I read several years ago was all about how paying attention to that voice was a good idea. It opens with an account of an archeologist seeing what was presented as an ancient and valuable statue. She "knew" something was off about it, yet all the paperwork and all the experts had declared it to be authentic. After a large sum of money exchanged hands--museum to dealer--that statue turned out to be a beautiful fake.

I just finished Provenance a non-fiction work that reads like an fast-paced novel. It's a story about a highly intelligent con man who, not only floods the market with forgeries of masterpieces, but also changes the provenance of that art.  (Provenance is the history of a piece of art that follows the work from the time it's first sold, so that it's journey is a map through the art world. The Provenance is supposed to determine the authenticity of the art and often the value.) His deception staggered museum curators and collectors around the world. There are still archived histories that have notes: "Be aware that these data may have been altered."

After reading these books, I wanted to create a character who had the intelligence, the guile, the utter disregard for others or for the truth. I thought a true miscreant would be a wonderful protagonist, someone with charm, but without one speck of care for anyone or anything. Then I wanted to put him into a story filled with dupes that readers would follow as they ignored those inner voices and believed my sociopath.

Maybe this book has already been written. If so, tell me about it before I craft my story. Or tell me about so I can read and enjoy it.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Monday Miscellany-All Over the Map

PRINTSASIA was generous enough to let me guest post about SLIDING ON THE EDGE. They have a great site. Hope you'll stop in and leave a comment for me. That would be wonderful.

The WRITE CAMPAIGN is going strong. Hope you'll stop by and see what the campaigners are up to.

Then there's the 2009 Debs and their crazy~fun Creepy Cake N Bake. Help us choose the CREEPIEST CAKE. Here's today's entry from Erin Dionne. Eyeballs, anyone?

 I'll add the permalinks as each author posts an entry. Be sure to stop by and say hi to them. They're outdoing each other in this contest.

Mon Oct. 3 - Saundra Mitchell
Wed Oct 5 - Stacey Jay
Friday Oct 7 - Erin Dionne
Saturday Oct 8 - Sydney Salter
Mon Oct 10 - Brenna Yovanoff
Wed Oct 12 - Tara Hudson
Friday Oct 14 - Karen Healey
Saturday Oct 15 - Robin Bridges
Mon Oct 17 - Michelle Zink
Wed Oct 19 - Julia Karr
Friday Oct 21 - Victoria Schwab
Sunday Oct 23 - E. Kristin Anderson
Mon Oct 24 - Natalie Zaman
Wed Oct 26 - Stephanie Burgis
Friday Oct 28 - Dawn Metcalf

Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday Special-Give us Hand if You Can

I'm blogging on Friday again, but this time it's to ask for writerly support for the WestSide Book authors. 

We're in a pickle.

WestSide is up for sale, but no one seems to know that, so all of our books are in limbo because no business is being conducted.
Can you put the word out? 
Can you purchase one of our books to enhance our visibility?
Can you send chocolates? (We have plenty of pickles, so don't send any of those.)
Buy Our Publisher & I'll Give You a Raccoon (This was Beth's idea, but I'll up the prize and make it TWO Racoons.)

I can't put Sliding on the Edge or The Princess of Las Pulgas out as eBooks. I can't do much of anything, but wait. The other authors are in the same situation.

Beth Fehlbaum took out an ad in Publisher's Marketplace for today to highlight what's going on. Hope you'll check out her post. Here's the list of all the WestSide authors.


A Kid from Southie by John Shea and Michael Harmon-- nominated for a 2012 YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant YA Readers

A Closer Look by Karen DelleCava

 Between Us Baxters by Bethany Hegedus-a 2010 Bank Street Best Book for Children, starred; Top 40 Fiction Books for YA by the Pennsylvania Library Association

Change Of Heart by Shari Maurer- named to the Pennsylvania School Library Association Top 40 books of 2010

Cracking the Ice by Dave Hendrickson

Dear Big V by Ellen W. Leroe

Hope In Patience by Beth Fehlbaum- 2011 YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers; Top Choice Award from Flamingnet

Hunted by Cheryl Rainfield

I Am Nuchu by Brenda Stanley

Listen by Nancy Coffelt

One Wish by Leigh Brescia

Open Wounds by Joseph Lunievicz--Starred Review in Publisher's Weekly; Book of the month in October at Treasured Tales for Young Adults

Orphan! by John R. Weber--selected a Top 40 YA novel for 2010 by the Pennsylvania School Librarian’s Association

Princess Of Las Pulgas by C. Lee McKenzie

Pull by B.A. Binns—nominated for a 2012 YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant YA Readers; 2010 National Readers Choice Award in the Young Adult category.

Running for My Life by Ann Gonzalez

Scars by Cheryl Rainfield- # 1, 2011 YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers, named to the 2011 ALA Rainbow List, a Governor General’s Literary Award finalist (Canada); ALA Stonewall Book Award Nominee; SCBWI Crystal Kite Award finalist; Independent Literary Awards (LGBT) shortlisted; Elliot Rosewater Indiana High School Book Award Nominee.

Saved By The Music by Selene Castrovilla

Seattle Blues by Michael Wenberg-selected a 2010 Bank Street Best Book for Children 9-12; Top Choice Award from Flamingnet

Shattered by Kathi Baron

Sliding On The Edge by C. Lee McKenzie

Something Terrible Happened on Kenmore by Marci Stillerman

Star in the Middle by Carol Larese Millward--Best YA Books of 2010: A Literary Mixtape - GalleyCat

Stepping Up by Mark Fink—winner of the Nevada State Book Award

Stringz by Michael Wenberg- selected a Top 40 YA novel for 2010 by the Pennsylvania School Librarian’s Association; Top Choice Award from Flamingnet

The Girl Next Door by Selene Castrovilla--selected a Top 40 YA novel for 2010 by the Pennsylvania School Librarian’s Association; one of GalleyCat's Best YA Books of 2010

The Ring by Bobbie Pyron—Finalist, Utah State Book Award

The Summer I Got A Life by Mark Fink

Waiting to Score by J.E. MacLeod—A 2010 Bank Street Best Book for Children

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

In the Throes of Thursday-Creepy Cake N Bake

1st Annual Creepy Cake N Bake is ON!
16 Authors

16 Creepy Creations
Two disturbing, but perfect hand made trophies (for the 1st and 2nd place author winners)

Two not-so-disturbing and very lovely prizes for those who comment (Vote for your favorite entry by commenting. You can comment on EVERY Cake N Bake post, one entry per post, for a chance to win a $20 gift certificate from The Book Depository or an official Creepy Cake N Bake doll! Please include your email in order to be entered to win.)

A celebrity Judge-Adam Rex, author of FAT VAMPIRE and FRANKENSTEIN TAKES THE CAKE  . . . Not my cake, you don't!

Here's a list of participants for your future convenience. I'll post links to each author and their Creepfastic Cakes.

Mon Oct. 3 - Saundra Mitchell
Wed Oct 5 - Stacey Jay
Friday Oct 7 - Erin Dionne
Saturday Oct 8 - Sydney Salter
Mon Oct 10 - Brenna Yovanoff
Wed Oct 12 - Tara Hudson
Friday Oct 14 - Karen Healey
Saturday Oct 15 - Robin Bridges
Mon Oct 17 - Michelle Zink
Wed Oct 19 - Julia Karr
Friday Oct 21 - Victoria Schwab
Sunday Oct 23 - E. Kristin Anderson
Mon Oct 24 - Natalie Zaman
Wed Oct 26 - Stephanie Burgis
Friday Oct 28 - Dawn Metcalf

Monday, October 3, 2011

Monday Miscellany-The Title Page

A Chaucer Woodcut Title Page
Recently, I slipped off to a museum to walk through a small exhibit of ILLUSTRATED TITLE PAGES. I know, don't say it. My friends and family say enough about my passion for all things Book. I thought I'd share some of what I saw there with those of you who might find the beauty of another time worth a quick view.

This exhibit opened with books from the 16th century--a little before my time and by authors I didn't have the privilege of meeting. As I walked around the small room I traveled through four centuries, snapping photos with my iPhone. Now, if that doesn't make you think about your place in time, nothing will.

The title page had the job of enticing the reading into the work while acknowledging the author, artist, patron and publisher. Wow! I wish I had all that color on my title pages. Maybe no nudes. I write YA.

And then came Alice. I loved this beautiful illustration of the dreaming girl.

 Happy Monday, everyone and especially to the WRITE CAMPAIGN people.