Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween! Costumes for Book Lovers

The Hipster's Book Halloween costume: a t-shirt that says
"I'm a character from an obscure old novel you've never read"

It's the second annual Literary Halloween Costumes round-up! Last year, I featured some favorites, like "Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird Dressed Up As HAM" and, of course, "Sexy Scrabble Board," and I'm back this year with more spooky, silly, and strange costumes for book lovers (clicking on the photo will bring you to the source).

Monday, October 29, 2012

Writing Spaces: From the master of horror...and cute desk puppies

There is something quite sweet about this vintage photo of Stephen King, hard at work. Feet on desk, gigantic old school computer, little office doggie, and even, in the left corner, a cheerful cartoon. Somehow makes the man behind Carrie, It, Misery, The Shining (etc etc) a little less creepy (a little).

King's impressive output is almost as frightening as the stories he comes up with, but just because he's in the fifth decade of his writing career doesn't mean he's slowing down. In fact, his website now features an ongoing webcomic based on his short story "The Little Green God of Agony," just in time for Halloween.

Happy reading, and for you east coasters out there, stay safe!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Wrap Up: Along Came a Spider Edition

For several weeks, this charming lady* made her home just outside our apartment, against the glass of our door to nowhere. We named her Chuck and would watch her rebuild her web every night (which was awesome). It was almost like having a very small pet who had no idea of your existence! Sadly, Chuck disappeared one day (probably bird breakfast, but I like to imagine her running around on farm somewhere upstate), but not before I managed to snap a few, Halloweeny photos of her.

And now, to the Halloweeny blog posts!

From Janet Reid, some wonderful writing tips from every tween's favorite horror writer, R.L. Stein

More great horror advice from Barry Lyga

Rachelle Gardner discusses author blogs and why an author might decide not to blog. She also reminds writers that it's more important than ever to master your craft

At Publishing Crawl, Kat Zhang breaks down book events from an author's perspective, Jordan Hamessley London gives us a day in the life of a children's book editor, and Mandy Hubbard talks about the role of an acquisitions editor

All week, Tor featured great classic ghost stories from writers including Edith Wharton and Mark Twain

via Nathan Bransford, a wonderful essay from LaTanya McQueen about writing, rejection, and how you ever know if you're good enough

Have a great weekend!

*For you arachnophiles out there, Chuck was a common orb weaver spider, about the size of a quarter. And we miss her terribly.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

My Top Five Spooky Books

I am a big fan of horror, in any form. Books, movies, TV shows--I just love it. Scaredy-cats (like the husband) always ask why, as in: "Why do you enjoy getting scared to pieces?" Truthfully, I love anything that can tap into some core emotion, be it romantic or sad or silly, and fear, terror (especially when I know I am safe on my couch) are pretty important emotions, too.

Books sometimes get the short straw as far as horror, seeing as they lack the visual, but that doesn't mean I haven't been freaked out by a good read. Here are some of my favorites:

I Hunt Killers, Barry Lyga
Holy crow. I had to read this one for the Cybils and I was completely blown away. Jazz, son of the country's most notorious serial killer, gets drawn into a series of mysterious murders that seem to echo his dad's work. As Jazz works to solve the mystery, he has to tap into the mind of a serial killer, which shouldn't be too hard, considering his dad's been training him as his replacement ever since Jazz was born.
Smart, complex, and scary as hell, I Hunt Killers kept me turning pages and wondering what the hell goes on in Barry Lyga's head.

Anna Dressed in Blood, Kendare Blake
Kendare Blake gets a lot of credit for jump-starting the horror trend in YA, and with good reason. Cas, the charismatic ghost hunter, meets his match in the beautiful Anna, a young woman cursed to haunt her former home for eternity. 
Horror + romance + crazy ghost chick = awesome.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, Ransom Riggs
Told with a series of atmospheric, amazing photos, Miss Peregrine's... was one of the most unique, unusual books I've read. Ransom Riggs introduced us to a new world hidden beneath reality, with a cast of characters as unsettling as they are captivating.

Bruce Coville's Book of Nightmares
This is a total nostalgia pick, I must admit. When I was a kid, I practically inhaled the Bruce Coville's Book of... series, but I had a special spot in my heart for this one, which featured stories so chilling and disturbing that I'm kinda amazed they got away marketing it for kids. By far, my favorite story was Janni Lee Simner's "Drawing the Moon," in which two orphans try to bring their parents back to life (see what I mean about disturbing?)

Dracula, Bram Stoker
I used to read this one on the subway until I got so engrossed that I missed my stop (always the sign of a good book). There's a reason that this is the big daddy of vampire stories: it's creepy, bloody, and brutal. No sparkles, no love story, just crazy monsters that will kill you (or possibly turn you mad or possibly transform you into a half-human/half-monster succubus). I'm just saying. It's awesome.

What are some of your horror favorites?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Writing Spaces: On Ghosts and Ghosting

I wasn't sure what to post to kick off a week of Halloweeny features, and then I saw, on Tor, this wonderful essay by Neil Gaiman about the different kind of ghost stories we experience in our lives. And then I found pictures of Gaiman's "office:" an awesome garden shed/tree house

I love that it is so bright and cheery and snuggled in the woods,
 but I can imagine it's a pretty crazy place to be when it's raining or dreary or, y'know, night.

 Here it is on the inside, all natural wood and messy papers.

Technology does nothing to dispel the shadows at the edge of things. The ghost-story world still hovers at the limits of vision, making things stranger, darker, more magical, just as it always has....

Friday, October 19, 2012

Wrap Up: Pumpkin Carving Edition

The blog's getting ready to celebrate Halloween! Starting next Monday, I'll be running special Halloween-themed content, leading up to the Second Annual Literary Halloween Costume Roundup (SALHCR)!

But first, this week's posts:

Vanessa DiGregorio discusses the state of the book industry and wonders if the rumors of the industry's demise have been greatly exaggerated

Rachelle Gardner talks about authors needing thick skin and how to manage inevitable criticisms and setbacks. She also puts together a great guide to the different kinds of edits a book will need

Via YA Highway, a countdown of ten haunted libraries in the US

Nathan Bransford reminds writers that ideas aren't sacred

I literally cannot believe that NaNoWriMo is less than two weeks away! Over at Galleycat, they offer the first NaNo advice of the season: how to prep yourself and build your writing survival kit

Great post from Kristin Halbrook about the sophomore slump and what authors can expect when thinking about and writing their second books

One more thing

Monday, October 15, 2012

Writing Spaces: Cozy Up

There is absolutely no logical reason that I chose this picture of Mark Twain, writing in bed, for today's Writing Space except that it is chilly outside and there are many days when I wish I could stay snuggled up under the covers forever. Twain spent a lot of time writing (and smoking) in bed, but the few times I've tried it, I've mostly managed to last half an hour before yaaaaawn and then oh man! When did it get to be four o'clock?

But maybe if my bed looked like this:
I would give it another shot.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Banned Book Week

Image from American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression

So, it’s been a bit of a crazy week over here. I had a whole post written up about censorship and language (for Banned Book Week) and had planned on posting it today, but I think I may save it for a week where I don’t feel quite so pulled in different directions.

But, since it is Banned Book Week, and because I wanted to do something to mark the occasion, I thought I’d briefly share some things I’m thinking about this week.

Banned Book Week is almost as controversial as the banned books themselves. I see it as a celebration of the freedom to read and express oneself but also—perhaps more importantly—an opportunity to talk about censorship and responsibility.

There are two sides of that freedom of expression: a person should not be suppressed from what they want to say but a person should also have the understanding to use their words responsibility, with the full awareness of their meaning and power.

One of my English teachers in high school used to say often that the freedom Americans enjoy (she herself is Irish) does not actually guarantee total freedom. Total freedom would be chaos, and instead there needs to be a balance, a responsibility that we understand what our freedom does (and does not) grant us.

I think it’s the same with words. Freedom of expression is a burden, as well. It asks us to think carefully about what we want to say before we say it, not because otherwise we might be suppressed but because words have power and that power should be wielded with understanding and maturity.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Cybils Announcement

It has been a busier day than expected, so in lieu of the usual Monday Writing Space, I would just like to remind you all that NOMINATIONS FOR THE CYBILS ARE NOW OPEN!

If you have a favorite book that you'd like to nominate, please head over here! I'll be reading the YA Fiction books, and if the list of nominations so far is any indication, I'm in for a fun (and busy) fall!