Tag Archives: Halloween Fright Week

Playing literary dress-up

Ogden Nash

Happy Halloween!If you were going to dress up as a favorite writer or as a character from a favorite book, what would your costume look like?

My greatest influences – Stephen King for horror and Ogden Nash for humor in poetry.

***

The Porcupine

Any hound a porcupine nudges
Can’t be blamed for harboring grudges.
I know one hound that laughed all winter
At a porcupine that sat on a splinter.

The Ant

The ant has made herself illustrious
By constant industry industrious.
So what? Would you be calm and placid
If you were full of formic acid?

-By Ogden Nash

***

For more of the amusing and amazing Ogden Nash, see PoemHunter.com.

Google is having fun on their home page today. In case you haven’t seen it.

Photo via Wikipedia.

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How to rid your neighborhood of those pesky zombies

Zombie Abatement Officer

Pretty Zombie

by

Karen S. Elliott

Pretty zombie, you think you’re stylish?

Blood a drippin’ down your shirt.

With your herky-jerky, lumbering lurch.

Ain’t ‘gon get us, we’re on alert.

***

Pretty zombie, just next door,

Banging down the neighbor’s entry.

Tearing through their chain-link fencing.

Your inhuman strength is really frightening!

***

Pretty zombie, you’re so scary.

Are those brains, gray and mushy,

Spilled upon your dirty feet?

Don’t look now, your toes are squishing.

***

What awful teeth, you’re a baring.

Gaping mouth, you’re getting anxious.

Baseball bats don’t knock you down.

We’ll have to raid the gun collection.

***

See my boy, he’s packing heat.

He’ll use his gun to make you dead.

To his shoulder, butt stock goes.

Oh pretty zombie, where’s your head?

Friend Megan-Zombie, in Albuquerque

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What Do You Want to Know About Publishing? by Heather L. Reid

It’s Personal: What Do You Want to Know About Publishing?

by Heather L. Reid

When I asked Karen what she wanted me to tackle for my guest post today, she said, “Give me something that will help others.” That sounds easy enough, right?

I’ve been through the trenches and come out with a two-book publishing deal. I should have the answer. Sage advice should spring from my fingers and onto the page. I must possess some magic knowledge that will help others get from aspiring writer to professional, right?

It’s not that simple. My knowledge revolves around my experience, my journey, what worked for me. (You can read about how I landed my two-book deal here.)

Truth is, every bit of practical wisdom I thought to impart has been rehashed a million times by writers greater than me and would only help those who were seeking the answer to that particular question. There’s plenty of practical knowledge I could have chosen to blog about, but how do I know if any of it will help you? How do I know which bit of wisdom you need to hear today?

Each of you have different needs, different questions you want answered, personal to your journey and personal to you. What inspires you might be different than what inspires me. What’s helpful to one person might be repetitive for someone else.

Maybe you’re new to writing and have questions about basics. Or you might be in query hell, fed up with rejections and if one more person gives you query advice you might punch them in the nose. On the other hand, maybe you’re debating pros and cons of traditional publishing verses self-publishing. Maybe you’re struggling with revisions, characterization, plotting, time management, or wondering if you should give up on your dream. Maybe you need to hear a success story to give you hope.

So what do I have to offer today? Me, for what it’s worth. What would help you? What do you want to know about the process, about publishing, about my journey, or about me?

Have a question about queries?

Want to know what life is like post book deal?

How long it took me to get published?

What men wear under their kilts?

How to write great dialogue?

Want my recipe for stuffed peppers?

Where the idea for Pretty Dark Nothing came from?

How to balance a job and publishing deadlines?

Why I’m a Joss Whedon fan and still grieve over the cancellation of Firefly?

Don’t be shy. Ask me anything. Seriously. I’m not a vampire, I don’t bite.

***

Heather L. Reid eats mayonnaise on her fries, loves men in kilts, and met her husband playing Star Wars Galaxies online. This native Texan now lives with her Scottish hubby in South Ayrshire, Scotland, where she wanders the moors in search of William Wallace. She has been a guest blogger on Writer Unboxed and is founder of a new blog for writers Hugs and Chocolate. Her debut young adult Paranormal,PRETTY DARK NOTHING, will be released on April 23, 2013 by Month 9 Books. She loves to meet and help other writers and readers so feel free to say hello via her website, Twitter, FB, and Goodreads.

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Creep Into the Mind of a Book Cover Designer, by Linda Boulanger

Thank you, Karen, for inviting me to your monthly event and allowing me to share how I go about creating great book covers – information that may help your blog readers design their own covers or know what information to pass on to a designer and why.

As an author and book cover/interior layout designer, I’ve designed covers across many genres, though the process always begins the same way.

1. Gather information about the story

2. Consider elements that grab

3. Search for images that might work

4. Design the cover

Information Gathering

One of the most important aspects of designing a cover is to truly capture the story. My “tag” is: Your Readers’ First Glimpse of What’s Inside. When an author contacts me I immediately start asking questions. There’s a whole list but the information that helps me the most:

-Do you have a synopsis/blurb?

-Do you already have a “vision” or idea in mind?

-Are there particular covers you’ve seen that you are fond of/prefer?

-Any particular point in the book that comes to mind that would make a reader say “aha!” when they read the book?

Without either sitting down to read your book or getting inside your head, I am never going to know your story as well as you do. And the reality of either of those two things happening before I design a cover are … well, one is impossible and the other is improbable. You decide which is which. Same goes for potential readers. They don’t know your story yet so your cover needs to convey what they need to become interested.

Elements That Grab

Next, think about elements that attract. With millions of books being offered at the press of a mouse button, your book needs an eye-catching cover (and notice how small they are when you first see them – hint: give your cover the postage stamp/thumbnail test to make sure it stands out little as well as big). One of the major elements often used are eyes. Why? They help convey emotion. Look at the six covers I’ve included and see what each one tells you about the stories, as well as where your eye goes first. Was it to the eye(s)? That’s why we use them. However, eyes are by no means the only attention grabbers so study other covers in your genre to see what they’re using and what you like.

Images

Where do the images come from? The best place to get images are stock images sites. I like the user agreements and ease of use provided by the following:

Dreamstime – Free and Royalty Free for a small fee

BigStockPhoto – Royalty Free for a small fee

Stock Free Images  – Offers truly FREE images

If you find an image someplace else, check for usage rights. Free and Royalty Free are not the same so don’t just grab something off the web and try to use it or you could find yourself paying hefty fines (that goes for blog posts and other internet usage as well). As a rule, you purchase the rights to use a royalty free image without having to pay each and every time you use it up to a certain number sold. That’s what it means on the sites I have listed and why I like to use them.

Also begin to look at images in different ways. Look at the Creepy Title covers shown. The one in the middle – using 100% FREE images from the Stock Free Images site – is a simple combination of the two pictures shown on the right. Would you have thought to put them together? Learn to rethink as well as considering additional elements that might be added. I took my girl and kitty images, added elements from some of the covers above, moved things around, and created something completely different. Does it work? Maybe. Maybe not. The key is not to be afraid to try.

Design a Great Cover

While I can’t teach you how to design, hopefully some of the things I do will either help you with your own design or when you seek out a designer. Regardless of who creates it, the end results should be the same:

-Arm yourself with a cover that will jump out at potential readers from the multitude of offerings.

-Provide a cover that shows the reader what they’ll find inside.

-Work for a cover you love and are proud to hold up and say “This is me! I wrote this story. Want to read it?”

If you have questions or need help, I’m never too far away from my laptop.

***

Linda Boulanger

Finding Linda:

Tell-Tale Book Covers – Cover Design Site

Author Site

Tell-Tale Book Covers on Facebook

Email: TellTaleBookCovers@gmail.com

FreeStockImages.com images used:

http://www.stockfreeimages.com/3890369/Gothic-make-up.html# © Dancer01 | Stock Free Images &Dreamstime Stock Photos

http://www.stockfreeimages.com/5250691/Scary-cat.html © Everyfinn | Stock Free Images &Dreamstime Stock Photos

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The Goblin Theory: A Bedtime Story for Naughty Children, by Tonia Marie Harris

Annie was a good girl who did wicked things.

She teased her baby sister when no one watched.

She stole the peanut brittle and hid it under her pillow.  Nightmares and a tummy ache made her confess to that one.  She did not need a horrible witch, like the one from Hansel and Gretel, coming for her.

Annie had enough worries for one nine-year old girl, thank you very much.

She blamed it on the Goblin.

He was worse than the witch, and he visited her night after night.

He smiled his smile full of pointed teeth and snorted from his green snout.  When Annie would sneak peeks at him in the long nights, he would cross his arms and sneer.  He didn’t speak, but Annie always knew why he came for her.

She never saw him in the daylight hours, but he knew every wicked thing she did.  He had a list, and it grew longer every night.  This made her tremble, and one night she wet the bed.

That night was the worst.  She called out for her mother, who scolded her and said things like, “You’re a big girl now, Annie.  There’s nothing there.  It’s only shadows.”  But once she turned the lights back off, Annie screamed and cried.

Mrs. James took pity on her oldest daughter, and nestled in bed with her.  She promptly fell asleep.

Annie opened one eye, and there he was.  “Mom, look, there he is.”

But when her mother turned to her, Annie could not see her face.  She spoke, but her words were garbled, like she talked over a mouthful of food.  Her mother never talked with her mouth full.

The goblin only leered at her, and Annie knew he was her secret, and she could never tell her secret to anyone, or he would hurt them.

Annie choked back her sobs, and willed that very long night to end.

To her great relief, her mother woke up with her face back on in the morning.  Annie told her mother she looked very beautiful and hugged her hard.  She meant every word she said.

But as hard as she tried, she always wound up in trouble.  Even for the accidents, like dropping her baby sister on her head, or when she not on purpose flushed her Barbie’s head down the toilet.  Annie always wanted to see what would happen next.  Her father explained it was cause and effect.

Annie believed she understood this theory very well.  Her bad deeds were the cause and the Goblin was the effect.

Each time she broke a rule, the goblin knew.

His list grew so long it curled and unfurled around him.  It made Annie’s heart sink.  She came to fear the list more than she did the goblin.

One night, she decided to be brave.  She thought her father brave, so she pretended to be him.  She stood up from the bed, and knelt in front of him.  He was very short, and it felt rude to tower over him like a grown up.  After all, he was the goblin with the list of all her wickedness, and she was only a little girl.

“What are you going to do with that list, Goblin?”  She said in her deepest voice.

The goblin did not answer, he tapped his helmet with his spear and shook the list so it hissed and rattled like a hungry snake.

Annie knew she would have to do her best to be good, and wait.

And she had an idea, which became a theory.  She did not like to be a scared little girl, who ducked under the covers at night and wet the bed once or twice because the goblin looked as though he would like to eat her.  From this theory, she formed a plan.

The next day she did not break a single rule, and did not pinch her sister, not even once.

She went to bed with a smile and hugged herself tight.  When her father shut the
door, and forgot to turn on the night-light, she did not complain.  The goblin did not pay her a visit that night, or the next.

But Annie did not know how long she could keep up being good.  She discovered that being good bored her near to tears, and she had big plans that did not include goblins with red eyes who wore funny hats.

The list was the worst.  That dreadful, dreary, devilish list, she hated it so, and never wanted to see it again.  She knew the Goblin would leave it just where her parents would find it.  Really, she loved her beautiful mother and her brave father, but they did not have to know everything:

Each pinch and each poke

The things that she broke

Every little lie

And the time she threw the cat from the window.

Just to watch him fly.

She thought the cat had been a good lesson.  They do not always land on their feet, sometimes they land on their heads.

After a long week of being good, Annie woke up ornery, cantankerous, and foul.  She decided she had enough.  Today was the day to do what she did best.  The Goblin would come tonight, and she knew just what to do with him.

Annie started the day by knocking the baby’s milk across the table and ended it by feeding crayons to the dog.  When the dog yarked green and purple on the rug, her parents sighed and put her to bed.

She went to bed feeling a little sorry for her mother.  It had been a long and busy day.  But she went to bed with a smile on her face.

The Goblin did not stand in the corner, as it had other nights.  It came right up to her bed, the list trailing and slithering around his clubbed feet.  Annie felt no fear, she had a theory.

When the Goblin shoved the list in her face, Annie opened her mouth and took a big bite.  It was the most delicious thing she had ever tasted.  The goblin stared, his mouth hung in an o, and green drool glimmered on his pointed teeth.  But he didn’t fight her, so Annie chewed and swallowed the entire list.

Cotton candy.  Apple pie a la mode.  Chocolate cake.

When she was done, she covered a burp with her hand and congratulated herself on being lady like.

The goblin yelled, stomped his club feet, and threw a tantrum better than her very worst.  She could not understand a word.

“I’m bigger than you.”  She stood up and grabbed the goblin, which shook and shivered with fear.

Annie wanted to know what he tasted like.

He tasted better than he smelled, like green apples ripe with sunshine.

She wiped her mouth with the sleeve of her nightgown and tucked herself back into bed.  The little girl decided the best feeling in the world was not being afraid anymore.

The next morning, she woke up with a belly ache that did not go away for days.  But she did not complain and thanked her mother for taking care of her.  When her mother left, she checked under her bed for her new treasures.

Annie picked up the goblin’s felt hat and pointed shoes, not a trace of the goblin to be found on them.  She put the cap on her head, and went to her mirror.  Though her belly hurt and her mouth felt sweet and sticky like a jelly bean, she was satisfied.

Annie was a wicked girl, who wanted to be good.

***

Tonia Marie Harris is a mother, writer, poet, and blogger who procrastinates in her spare time. She  is currently editing a young adult ghost story. Chocolate is her kryptonite. You can find Tonia at Hugs and Chocolate for writers, her blog PassionFind, Twitter, and Facebook.

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The Old Ways, a poem by Mairi McCloud

Yes, Friends.

It’s that time of year

the time of the year grown old and restless

the time of the passing of all things.

The old year

not as our grandparents knew it,

but our earlier parents,

shrinking into the dark night,

waiting for the spirits that come

as the year from a forgotten calendar

passes away.

It’s that time of year when

the falling rain sounds like furtive footsteps

behind you.

When the angry wind wants in

at every door and window –

tries the lock and roars

when we turn him away.

I cannot see them, but I hear them.

They who come in with the wind –

that hide behind the falling leaves,

They whose voices crackle in the sharp

bitter air.

They come again, friends,

at the passing of the year.

Mairi McCloud

I was born and raised in Utah, which is a busy and growing place. However, the weather did not agree with me – and, well, it was time to move on – so when I was in my early twenties I moved to central New York to live with my sister and her family. They live in a beautiful, rural spot and it was while in NY that I decided to go back to school (I had heretofore avoided university). I had already been studying Scottish Gaelic (as most of my ancestry is Scottish & my siblings & I were all raised with a strong sense of that heritage) and, at the community college, became very interested in archaeology. So I applied to several universities in Britain, and was accepted to Glasgow University, where I have been studying archaeology (and Gaelic) for the past two years. Just this past summer, I was able to go on my very first dig! Every year I learn and love Scotland more! There are no ends to the nooks and crannies yet to be explored. See my blog, Over the Sea to Glasgow.

All photos courtesy Mairi McCloud.

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