Wednesday, October 31, 2012

All Hallow's Eve


All Hallow's Read Giveaway Winners

As a part of Neil Gaiman's All Hallow's Read initiative, I am happy to announce the winners of Michael Robb Mathias' The Butcher's Boy. Congratulations!

Audio Book Grand Prize Winner: R. Doug Wicker

Kindle copies: TR Larson, Lucie, Kevin Eaton and Ray


__________________________________________________________________________


Who's up for a little classic horror on this Halloween? Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you "The Raven," by Edgar Allan Poe.




The Raven
By Edgar Allan Poe

 
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, 
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore, 
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, 
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door. 
"'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door- 
                Only this, and nothing more." 

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December, 
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor. 
Eagerly I wished the morrow;- vainly I had sought to borrow 
From my books surcease of sorrow- sorrow for the lost Lenore- 
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore- 
                Nameless here for evermore. 

And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain 
Thrilled me- filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before; 
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating, 
"'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door- 
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;- 
                This it is, and nothing more." 

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer, 
"Sir," said I, "or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore; 
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping, 
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door, 
That I scarce was sure I heard you"- here I opened wide the door;- 
                Darkness there, and nothing more. 

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing, 
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before; 
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token, 
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, "Lenore?" 
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, "Lenore!"- 
                Merely this, and nothing more. 

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning, 
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before. 
"Surely," said I, "surely that is something at my window lattice: 
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore- 
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;- 
                'Tis the wind and nothing more!" 

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter, 
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore; 
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he; 
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door- 
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door- 
                Perched, and sat, and nothing more. 

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling, 
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore. 
"Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou," I said, "art sure no craven, 
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore- 
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!" 
                Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore." 

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly, 
Though its answer little meaning- little relevancy bore; 
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being 
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door- 
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door, 
                With such name as "Nevermore." 

But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only 
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour. 
Nothing further then he uttered- not a feather then he fluttered- 
Till I scarcely more than muttered, "Other friends have flown before- 
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before." 
                Then the bird said, "Nevermore." 

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken, 
"Doubtless," said I, "what it utters is its only stock and store, 
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster 
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore- 
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore 
                Of 'Never- nevermore'." 

But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling, 
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door; 
Then upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking 
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore- 
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore 
                Meant in croaking "Nevermore." 

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing 
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core; 
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining 
On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o'er, 
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o'er, 
                She shall press, ah, nevermore! 

Then methought the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer 
Swung by Seraphim whose footfalls tinkled on the tufted floor. 
"Wretch," I cried, "thy God hath lent thee- by these angels he hath sent thee 
Respite- respite and nepenthe, from thy memories of Lenore! 
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!" 
                Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore." 

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil! - 
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore, 
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted- 
On this home by Horror haunted- tell me truly, I implore- 
Is there- is there balm in Gilead?- tell me- tell me, I implore!" 
                Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore." 

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil! 
By that Heaven that bends above us- by that God we both adore- 
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn, 
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore- 
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore." 
                Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore." 

"Be that word our sign in parting, bird or fiend," I shrieked, upstarting- 
"Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore! 
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken! 
Leave my loneliness unbroken!- quit the bust above my door! 
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!" 
                Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore." 

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting 
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door; 
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming, 
And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor; 
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor 
                Shall be lifted- nevermore! 


Happy Halloween!



Monday, October 29, 2012

Monday Morning Business




Hello, dear readers.

I hope you had a good weekend. Here are a couple of reminders for the week.

Hurricane Sandy

First of all, to those of you on the eastern coast of the United States, I thinking of you and hoping you weather the storm. Be safe, my friends.

Giveaway

There is only one day left to enter the All Hallow's Read giveaway to win Michael Robb Mathias' The Butcher's Boy. Click here for more information. Winners will be announced on Wednesday. Good luck!

November Flash Fiction Fridays

I am looking for two more pieces for next month's Flash Fiction Fridays. If you are interested, please send your 1,000-word or less story to me at karen@karenberner.com.

Happy Eid!

Eid Mubarak to my Muslim friends as they wrap up their four-day celebration today.


A Bibliophile Christmas

My holiday digital short, "A Bibliophile Christmas," will be out November 5. It features Sarah and Annie from my first novel, A Whisper to a Scream (The Bibliophiles: Book One). More information to come.

As always, thanks so much for being a part of the Bibliophilic Blather community.




Friday, October 26, 2012

Flash Fiction Fridays: Bewitching



Lover’s Brew
By Rosemary Biggio


Becca sipped her last drop of Lady Grey brew while Sebastian, her husband, in a faded University of Penn sweatshirt, labeled boxes.

 “By God, hurry up, the movers will be here any minute.”

Staring at the flakes of loose tea forming a pattern at the bottom of her cup, she found her husband’s habitual use of the expletive “by God” annoying. Three hulky men with the logo “Move Away” on their shirts loaded the truck.

Her husband shook her perching stool.

“Hey, cut it out,” she croaked.

“Got to get going,” Sebastian raised his voice above his wife’s.

“I’m exhausted. Too many late night parties with a colicky baby. You disappear into fiction and miss all the fun,” she cawed.

He didn’t believe the doctor about his wife’s postpartum depression, still he tempered his comments.

When the movers left the scene, she settled in the car while her husband squeezed their son into his car seat.

He patted his wife’s hand. “Honey, you’ll see things will be different in the country. By God, it’ll be a fresh start for all of us.”

Baby Evan drooled. As the car pulled away, Becca looked back at their Society Hill townhouse. The stool and teacup were left behind.


*********************

The rolling hills of Lancaster County were dotted with tidy Amish farms and towns with curious names like Intercourse and Bird-in-the-Hand. Sebastian plunked down the advance on his novel and most of their savings to buy a stone farmhouse beyond Intercourse in a tiny hamlet called Harmony. The village appeared on no map or GPS. Harmony was out of Google‘s spying. On one of his drives, he came upon the village. The desolate farmhouse with five acres rested between a restored mill and an Amish farm. He had no intention of farming.

It had been a month after the couple took possession of the house when Sebastian brought in a wicker basket with a gangly Golden Retriever pup recently whelped.

“Are you crazy? I have enough looking after Evan, now a dog?” The kettle whistled. She readied a fine bone china tea cup from Ye Olde Tea Shoppe on High Street.


Sebastian confessed, “I should have asked you. I thought it would pull you out of this funk, that’s also why I bought the house.”

“You bought the house for you, Sebastian, so you could write that damn novel. I was an afterthought,” she intoned.

He grabbed his sweater.

“What did you name it?” His wife called after him.

“Charon,” he yelled slamming the door.

Sebastian heard the clippity-clop of the horse’s hooves as the black carriage rounded the bend. Under the blue moon, the Amish couple, shoulders touching, headed for the meeting house. The woman peeked out the window. Her bonnet ribbons swayed in the breeze. The chilly fall air spoke of winter. After the walk, he surrendered to sleep on the couch.


*********************

It was harvest time.

When remodeling the bedroom, he ripped the wall open, exposing a door leading to another room.

“Charon, come here boy.” Ears pulled back, the dog turned tail. You’re no Lassie, Sebastian thought.

He used the hammer’s claw to pull off the rusty plate that sealed the doorway. The odor of moth balls pinched his nostrils. He dusted off books written in some dead language. Latin? Becca was in the kitchen watching teething Evan and the pup tumble on the floor. Sebastian tossed the rusty plate on the table.

“I ripped out the wall in the bedroom, and by God, I found this on the door to another room.“

“It’s a hex sign. Haven’t you noticed them on the barns around here?” His wife examined the amulet.

“No, what’s it for?” He asked.

“Folks say they ward off evil.” Becca’s fingertips traced the design on the amulet, then mumbled something. Decorating the new room and visiting the tea shop lifted her spirits.


********************

It was a leap year, that Becca, costumed in a floppy witch’s hat, opened the room decorated for Halloween. The dog barked and squatted at the entranceway. Bobby Pickett’s "Monster Mash" blared. Evan squealed with delight at the sight of bowls filled with treats. The baby, dressed as a jester, jingled atop his father’s shoulders. Dank air and a lingering foul smell invaded the room. Becca lit candles. Sebastian glanced at his wife. Her faced was flushed, her eyebrows arched. She chanted, eerily smiled at her husband and baby. She stooped to blow out the candles. The shadowy figures of family vanished. Their lives extinguished.

A slate November sky announced All Soul’s Day. Paws on the windowsill, Charon jingled the baby’s hat. She never heard the bells. She was going to the shop to try a special tea, her lover brewed. Becca smiled as she thought of Sebastian.

By God, things would be different.



Rosemary Biggio was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. A retired high school teacher and college instructor, Biggio is now a freelance writer.

Photo courtesy of the Gold Country Cottage blog.




Monday, October 22, 2012

New Books by FFF Authors


My favorite feature on Bibliophilic Blather is Flash Fiction Fridays because it showcases writers not only from across the United States, but from around the world. We've even had authors from as far away as Serbia and Australia. And their genres and writing styles are just as varied as their locations.

Several of our Flash Fiction Fridays contributors have recently released new books.

Kae Cheatham's Hammer Come Down centers on a slave's complicated relationship with his one-time master.

The 1836 Creek Indian war changes the lives of the two young men when an Alabama plantation is destroyed. Devastated by the loss of family and friends, the slave, Jason heads west with his master, Tolin Cobb.

During the trek, Jason contemplates his atypical life as Tolin’s manservant. He has grown up knowing well the restraints demanded of a black man, yet has always dreamt of freedom, a mysterious concept to Jason.

In the west, Jason survives various adventures at Fort Laramie, in Independence, Missouri, and in Indian Territory. Through a generous dollop of fate, Jason even finds his true love who had been missing since the Alabama war, making the freedom he attains much more complete than anything he imagined.

Tense, dramatic, and historically accurate, Hammer Come Down records Jason's persistent desire for freedom and his unique friendship with his one-time master, Tolin Cobb.

Jeanette Fratto follows up No Stone Unturned with another Linda Davenport novel, No Good Deed.


Linda Davenport’s first year as a probation officer was tumultuous. She survived the stress of training, solved the mysterious death of her friend, Carol Alder, and had a painful reunion with her former college love, David Wyndham. They resolved their difficulties and are now engaged to be married.

With the drama behind her, Linda is enjoying her first assignment as an investigator for the adult courts. Her life has finally settled down nicely. Or has it?

Damian Calloway, a handsome movie star with a pristine image, is accused of sexually molesting a woman. He adamantly denies the charges and Linda is assigned to prepare his pre-trial report, at the special request of the chief probation officer. At the same time, Linda learns that her mother is planning a two-week visit, her first since Linda moved to California from Michigan, a move her mother did not favor. 

Matters are further complicated when Linda discovers information about Calloway’s past that challenges his squeaky-clean image. A critical choice must be made. Before the truth is sorted out, Linda must defend her reputation on the witness stand, resolve differences with her mother, and have a final confrontation with Damian Calloway.

Eileen Granfors delivers a prequel to Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities with Sydney's Story.



Sydney's Story is a romp through historical eighteenth-century England and France during the formative years of Sydney Carton, the adult hero of the Dickens' classic, A Tale of Two Cities

How did this brilliant, compassionate man become a dissolute drunk, willing to die for love?




Biker fiction author Karina Kantas serves up some Road Rage.




After escaping the violent lifestyle of an outlaw motorcycle club, Gem tries to live a quiet life. But when the need for adrenaline leads her into the arms of a member of a legit racing club, her past and present collide with shocking and deadly results.






Why not show them some love and check out these latest offerings?




Friday, October 19, 2012

Flash Fiction Fridays: Horror Month Continues


Bibliophilic Blather is joining in on Neil Gaiman's All Hallow's Read this year by offering one audio copy and five  ebooks of Michael Robb Mathias' award-winning horror tale, The Butcher's Boy. To enter the giveaway, click on the contest widget at the end of this post.

The contest will run from today through October 30. Winner will be announced on Halloween.

Today on Flash Fiction Fridays, we present an excerpt from The Butcher's Boy.








The Butcher’s Boy
By Michael Robb Mathias

Maggie couldn’t agree with Michael on who they were going to try to contact. Michael wanted to question Billy, while Maggie was interested in what one of the Buxly women, particularly either of the older of them, had to say. They ended up flipping a coin. Heads Michael picked, tails it was Maggie’s choice. At some point, during all of this bickering, Lucy found a place between them on the floor under the coffee table.

The coin landed on heads and Michael, of course, chose Billy. He also appointed himself as the moderator of the conversation they hoped to elicit. Maggie decided that she wouldn’t argue. She was actually a bit relieved that she wouldn’t have to talk to the creepy ghosts this time. She was also glad that she could feel Lucy’s warm comforting fur against her leg.

Michael turned off the television with the remote, leaving the living room dimly lit by the dozen candles that were scattered about on either side of them.

“Here we go,” Maggie said, putting her hand on the planchette. Michael put his hand on hers, and they began.

They did the figure of eight movement for a few awkward moments, then the motion smoothed out and they began to chant together.

“Bill-lee, Bill-lee, Bill-lee.”

This went on for about five minutes, and Maggie could see that Michael was getting frustrated. Finally, he said, “It’s not working.”

“Don’t give up,” said Maggie, keeping the movement going.

Michael sighed and resumed the chant.

“Bill-lee, Bill-lee.”

They didn’t even get the rhythm of the planchette motion going before the candles flickered, and the room temperature dropped. It was suddenly so cold that they could see their breath billowing out from their mouths in foggy clouds.

“Say something,” Maggie whispered through her fear.

Michael blinked a few times and looked at her wide-eyed.

“Oh.Yeah. Billy? Billy, are you there?” His voice came out small, as if he were speaking to a large group of people for the very first time.

The pointer stopped midway through the curving loop of its pattern and moved straight to the “No” icon.


“Who is this?” asked Maggie. The power of the force holding the planchette in place was unnerving because, even had she tried, Maggie could not have moved it from its current position.

The pointer released from the “No” icon of its own accord and started back into the figure of eight movement for a moment before coming to rest on the letter “B.”

“Bee,” Michael and Maggie said in unison.

The pointer then went to “I.” Dutifully, they said the letter aloud as the pointer moved to “C.”

When the planchette came to rest on the letter “H,” Maggie said, “Bitch?”

A hiss resounded from somewhere beyond reality just as the planchette jerked up off the Ouija Board causing both Maggie and Michael to let go of it. It didn’t fall, but instead came to a hover between them.

Michael Robb Mathias is the author of the best-selling Wardstone Trilogy and the Dragoneer Saga. To learn more about Michael, please visit his website

Enter below for your chance to win a copy of The Butcher's Boy.



a Rafflecopter giveaway






Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Next Big Thing


“The Next Big Thing” is a fun blogger tag game in which participants answer the following questions about their works in progress.

I have been tagged by Richard Bon and Beverly Diehl. Richard is the talented creative force behind Liminal Fiction and miscellany and Beverly pens the amazing Writing in Flow, which throughout the month of October is focusing on the issue of domestic violence. Thanks to both of them for thinking of me.

Okay, here goes.

What is the working title of your book?

The Bibliophiles: Book Three. Sorry, that’s all I have right now.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

For the next novel, I wanted another juxtaposition of characters. Book club members Thaddeus and Spring seem to go together in that they are both on the fringe of society and caught in time warps. Spring is a leftover flower child, while Thaddeus wishes he was back in Jane Austen’s days. However, their upbringings could not be more different. Thaddeus suffered from a lack of freedom, while Spring had entirely too much.

What genre does your book fall under?

Contemporary fiction or women’s fiction.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

No idea. I like to envision them as they come alive on the page, not by people that already exist.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Self-published. I am indie all the way.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Don’t know. I haven’t started it yet. I have notes and a few scenes, but I have just finished a digital holiday short and am working on some holiday promotions. Then I will start writing this next book.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I love the idea of writing people who feel trapped in the wrong time period. I’m also excited to write my first male protagonist.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Everything, of course! I mean, who wouldn’t think that a kid whose parents were hippies and a prissy anglophile would naturally go together?

Tag! You're it! 

Karen Cantwell
Julia Munroe Martin
Becky Povich
Rena J. Traxel
Unpublished Life

Here are the questions from which to choose.


What is the working title of your book?
Where did the idea come from for the book?
What genre does your book fall under?
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?



Wednesday, October 17, 2012

All Hallow's Read




***To enter The Butcher's Boy giveway, click here. ***

Have you heard about Neil Gaiman’s new project? He is suggesting that everyone give an age-appropriate scary book to someone this Halloween to encourage reading horror stories. Not in lieu of candy for the kids, of course, but as an extra plus. And not just for children, but for anyone. Click here for more information.

I love this idea so much that I have a special treat for you, dear readers. I have teamed up with best-selling horror and fantasy author Michael Robb Mathias to bring you a unique All Hallow’s Read Giveaway.

Michael is offering one audio book and five Kindle copies of his terrifying novel, The Butcher’s Boy, winner of the 2011 Readers Favorite Award Silver Medal in Horror - Fiction.

Thirty-one years ago, Buxly the Butcher went to trial for killing his entire family. He was found guilty, and sentenced to die for those crimes. Now, Janet Hale, a recently divorced nurse, has purchased the house unaware of the brutal murders that took place there so long ago. 

From the moment she, her eleven-year-old son, and his overprotective Rottweiler move in, bad things start to happen. A strange man is caught lurking in the back yard, and the only neighbor turns out to be a crazy old widow. But not everything is going wrong. During the move, Janet meets a handsome charmer. She likes him enough to start dating again, leaving a sitter to watch over her son. 

When Michael, and his dog, Lucy-Fur, learn firsthand that their home is haunted by one of the victims of the Butcher's grisly act, Michael scours the internet and the local library to find out what happened back then. Maggie, the sitter, brings over a Ouija board and they soon find out that there is more than one dark spirit on the haunt.  

Can Lucy-Fur protect her boy from the angry ghost that wants to possess him? Can Michael fight through the madness and terror to find out what really happened? If he does, maybe the tormented souls can be put to rest, and his mom can keep the house that she seems to love. If he fails, he just might become one of them. With the help of Maggie, and a burned out house painter, Michael is going to try. The problem is, not everyone is who they seem...not even the dead.  

Here is what reviewers had to say about The Butcher’s Boy.

“This book is not your typical horror story. The author's work can be compared to Stephen King and Dean Koontz. Like their books, this plot takes you to unexpected places. There are twists and turns that keep the reader guessing: ghosts slipping in and out of bodies both living and dead, shadows and bumps in the night are the least of the main characters' worries in this book. Fans of horror will not want to miss this creepy story.” — Readers Favorite 2011 International Book Award Contest Review

“The novel is a suspenseful page-turner with well-developed characters. Even Lucy the Rottweiler is a round character. The specters, too, have solid personalities... renders them even scarier.” —ForeWord Magazine

Join us on Friday for a flash fiction excerpt of The Butcher’s Boy and the chance to win an audio book or Kindle copy. Winners will be announced on Halloween.

***To enter The Butcher's Boy giveway, click here. ***




Monday, October 15, 2012

What Are You Going To Be For Halloween?



Ah, Halloween, that magical day when you can dress however you want and no one  looks at you like you’re crazy. A geisha? Sure! Get in line. You get to lead the school costume parade. An angel? Awww, how sweet. A scarecrow? Very seasonal.

By the time freshman year in college rolled around, Halloween took a more, shall I say interesting, route with great memories of being dressed like a little girl, with pigtails and teddy bear, dancing with a friend who was Dr. Frank N. Furter, the Transylvanian transvestite from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Must have made an interesting tableau. Or the basketball team roaming the halls, tied together as a six pack of beer, oh, I mean soda.

My finest Halloween came after raiding the theater department’s costume room (I was taking a children’s theater class that semester) for my Mozart’s mistress dress, real corset and all. People were still talking about that costume at my 25-year reunion this past June, along with my 18th-century up-do, achieved with an entire can of hairspray and baby powder.

In Until My Soul Gets It Right (The Bibliophiles: Book Two), the Bibliophiles classics book club members go on a field trip to All Hallow’s Eve at Naper Settlement, a local living history museum. They see Edgar Allan Poe and the three witches from MacBeth, plus Dracula and a Puritan witch trial, all good, frightening, classic literary festivity .

Wouldn’t it be fun to dress as a literary character or author this Halloween? Here are some of my favorite ideas.

William Shakespeare. Donning the Bard’s costume is as easy as wearing a blousy white shirt and tucking slim-cut pants into the top of white knee socks. To create the Elizabethan ruff (collar), simply fold a piece of paper into an accordion pleat, punch a whole in the top and thread string through the holes. Tie it around your neck, and fluff it out as you see fit. Draw a small mustache on with black eye pencil, and carry a quill. Huzzah!


Photo courtesy of Urban Outfitters.

Carrie. Have an old prom or bridesmaids dress you are never going to wear,? Poor red paint on it, part your hair down the center, and pour fake blood all over yourself. You’re Carrie from the Stephen King novel of the same name! Works best with a slinky, 1970s-style dress.

Tom Sawyer. Wear frayed, worn jeans, a plaid shirt and a straw hat. Tie a bandana at the end of a long stick. Bingo! Easy as pie.

Nancy Drew. Assemble a preppy ensemble of a plaid skirt, oxford shirt, blazer and a cloche hat. Carry a magnifying glass. Friends with a clue will know who you are immediately.

Edgar Allan Poe. What’s Halloween without an hommage to the creepiest of all 19th-century writers? With a white dress shirt, black suit (with vest), and a mustache drawn on with black eye pencil, you will be Poe in no time. Don’t forget the raven for your shoulder or to carry.

These are just a few of the many possible options. What would your favorite literary Halloween costume be?


This post originally appeared as a guest blog on CMash Reads.


Friday, October 12, 2012

Flash Fiction Fridays: There Be Monsters



It Was Nothing
By Leanne Dyck


In pink flannel footie pajamas, Petal crept onto her mother’s bed, eased back the covers, and curled up.

Click.

The lamplight cut the darkness.

“What’s the matter, Honey,” her mother asked.

“I want to… I want to sleep with you.”

“Oh, Petal, we’ve been over and over this. You’re a big girl. You have your own room.”

“No, I can’t. It’s under my bed.”

“I’m sure there’s nothing there, but I’ll go with you, and we’ll look.”

Armed with a flashlight, together Petal and her mother entered her bedroom.

No, we shouldn’t be here. No, don’t wake it. Please. Petal prayed silently as her mother scanned the area under her bed.

The beam of light hit something. It moved.

“It’s there. It’s right there.” Petal covered her eyes.




“See, it’s nothing.” Her mother held something in her cupped hand. Petal stared at the dust bunny.

Scrape. Scrape. Scrape.

“What’s that?” Petal wrapped her arms around her mother’s leg.

The flashlight’s beam fell on the window. “See. It’s nothing—just a tree branch.” Her mother frowned. “Now, please, it’s late. We both need to get to sleep. Don’t wake me again.”

Reluctantly, Petal crawled into her bed.

Her mother left the door open a crack. “Remember, it’s nothing. Just your imagination playing tricks on you.”

Clutching her teddy bear, Petal laid her head on her pillow, pulled the covers up to her chin, and forced her eyes shut. It’s nothing. It’s nothing.

Scrape. Scrape. Scrape.

"Mommy says, you’re just a tree branch. But you sound so close. Like you’re under my bed."

“I’m going to get you.”

"Mommy says, you’re nothing—just my imagination. But I can hear you breathing, talking, waiting."

A furry, brown arm reached out from under the bed.

The next morning, Petal’s mother called, “It’s time to wake up. We have to hurry.”

Walking into the bedroom, she flicked on the light. Petal wasn’t asleep on her bed. She wasn’t in the kitchen, bathroom, living room, or outside playing on the lawn. She was gone.

Barely breathing, she desperately returned to the bedroom, hoping and praying, but all the mother saw was the abandoned teddy bear. Her face wet with tears, she cradled the toy in her arms. “But it was nothing.”




Author Leanne Dyck is the author of flash fiction, short stories, and The Sweater Curse, a knitting-themed thriller. To learn more about Leanne, visit her website.





Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Halloween Bash for the Books


Dear readers, you know how much I love Halloween. Well, with half of my WOW! Women on Writing Blog Tour occurring in October, I have written several guest posts about blending classic literature and Halloween.

For example, in one on how to throw a literary Halloween party, I came up with my new favorite costume idea — The Picture of Dorian Gray. It would be pretty simple to pull off, too. Build a frame around yourself, wear a dapper suit, and gradually age your face from right to left with makeup. Don't forget to make half of your hair gray. Fun, right?

You can read more of my literary Halloween ideas in "A Halloween Bash for the Books" on Writer Unboxed.







Monday, October 8, 2012

Monday Morning Football






Here's a quick trivia question for this Monday morning.

What NFL team's name has a link to literary greatness?

First one with the correct answer wins a $10 amazon gift card.

Good luck!






Friday, October 5, 2012

Flash Fiction Fridays: Let the Horror Begin





The Grandma
By Ivana Milaković

The grandma had warm, brown eyes. Every child who looked into them immediately felt protected and tucked in.

The grandma baked wonderful, nice-smelling cakes, and she was happy to give them to the children. Since she wanted them to be healthy, she’d sweeten them with honey or maple syrup, never with white sugar.

The grandma told beautiful stories, all about children who found a fairy tale house, and then lived there happily ever after, without a worry in the world.

The grandma always smelled sweet, like the cakes she baked. Everything on her smelled like that, the skin, the hair, the clothes. The children loved that smell.

The children would easily find the grandma’s house. All the children talked about that house as a place where you would be safe, forever, where no one would beat you up, where everyone would be nice to you. The children would be attracted by the warm, sweet smell, and follow it to the house. It seemed that the grown-ups never noticed the smell, and they ignored the pretty, old-fashioned house partly covered with ivy, because it wasn’t new and modern.

It was always warm in the grandma’s house, because of the cakes she kept baking, and because of the pleasant-smelling firewood the grandma used in the big oven.

The grandma had long, sharp teeth she’d sink into the necks of the sleepy, full-fed children, and drink their blood. The children wouldn’t mind, because the grandma smelled so nice and was so warm and always took care they were comfortable and safe.

And everyone lived happily, the grandma ever after, the children a bit shorter than that.



A writer, a reader, a dreamer. Friendly to cats. For more information on Ivana, visit her blog. This story is featured in her short story collection, Mačji snovi, as well as several Serbian publications.




Monday, October 1, 2012

Banned Books Week, Sept. 30-Oct. 6




Every year, the thing that shocks me the most about Banned Books Week is the list of classics that have been banned at one time or another. These are important novels that have shaped collective American consciousness, and they were almost silenced by self-righteous morons.

Here are a few courtesy of bannedbooksweek.org. For the complete list, click here.

The Great Gatsby: Some people had problems with the language and sexual references.

The Grapes of Wrath: Objections to profanity and sexuality.

The Scarlet Letter: Parents tried to ban it even in 1977, because it "conflicted with community values."

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: Banned by a Wisconsin school district because "they wanted to avoid controversy at all costs." That's right. Bury your head. Maybe the horrors will just go away.

It's really very simple. If someone is offended by foul language, sexual situations, or controversial topics, fine. Don't read the books. But why not let other people make up their own minds?

What's your favorite banned book?