Halloween Reads for Kids & Grownups

Happy Halloween, my friends! As not a spooky story lover, mostly, I support and applaud all of you who are less scaredy cat than I. I want to point you in the direction of All Hallow’s Read, which has all kinds of great book recommendations and video of Neil Gaiman talking up books for Halloween. (I admit it. I can just listen to that guy forever. And read anything he writes. I’m smitten.)
scary-book-blogAnd, here are some of my client’s favorite books for Halloween! In the interest of saving time and space I didn’t included the illustrator names for the picture books. These are in no particular order, other than divided by age category, and this list is purely subjective and absolutely incomplete. So enjoy some Halloween suggestions for each age group! And booooooooo!

Picture Books

Peanut Butter and Brains by Joe McGee

Vampirina Ballerina by Anne Marie Pace

Skeleton Cat by Kristyn Crow

Crankenstein by Samantha Berger

Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds

Tailypo by Joanna Galdone

The Monster at the End of this Book by Jon Stone

Mostly Monsterly by Tammi Sauer

Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson

Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White

Boogie Knights by Lisa Wheeler

Sipping Spiders through a Straw by Kelly DiPucchio

The Ugly Pumpkin by Dave Horowitz

Middle Grade

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

When a Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

The Mostly True Story of Jack by Kelly Barnhill

The Witch’s Boy by Kelly Barnhill

Doll Bones by Holly Black

The Crowfield Curse by Pat Walsh

The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier

Young Adult

Rotters by Daniel Kraus

The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey

The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith

The Accident Season by Moïra Fowley-Doyle

Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma

Tighter by Adele Griffin

Blackwood by Gwenda Bond

Blood and Salt by Kim Liggett

I hope you all have a lovely Halloween, filled with just the right amount of candy and cosplay!

 

 

 

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On Reading & Writing: When a Monster Calls in a Hotel Room

I was in Virginia at a writing conference this past weekend, doing critiques, meeting with authors, and being on a panel of agents, with the Mid-Atlantic SCBWI. There are so many things I can talk about regarding the conference: how well it was run; why I think everyone who writes for kids should be an SCBWI member, what a lovely group of writers I met; the fantastic opportunity of watching Kwame Alexander and Judith Viorst in conversation; how lucky I feel to be a part of the children’s literature community, as a publishing professional and a writer. Really, I could continue this list for a very long time.

61guqyj17pl-_sx394_bo1204203200_But I want to talk about reading, and being a writer, and something that happened in my hotel room on Saturday night, after my long day of meetings and conversations with writers. I was so very tired. After dinner I went up to my room and got in my pajamas and took my book and crawled into bed. I’m in an MFA program right now, and one of the books I was assigned to read this week was A MONSTER CALLS by Patrick Ness. For a variety of reasons it probably isn’t something I would have thought to pick up on my own. But it’s remarkably well written. It’s beautiful to look at. The level of craft in this novel is phenomenal. Now let me tell you the thing that happened.

I had to put the book down. I had to put it down because it made me cry. I don’t mean that I teared up but kept reading, like when Beth March or Fred Weasley died. Nobody had died, but I got to a point in the story where I was moved so much that I was crying. Crying, not tearing up or something. I had to put the book down so I could pull myself together. Of course I picked it up again, and finished it, and teared up a few times along the way. But when I had to put the book down? Well, that was something else.

I’m sharing this because that’s what I’m looking for when I look for new clients, and that’s what I strive to achieve as a writer myself. Not necessarily making people cry, but making people feel. That can be LOLs, tears, fear, compassion, connection…feeling. A fellow writer and friend of mine (hi Meghan!) says, “You know me, I’m all about the feels,” regarding what she’s looking for as a reader. And I wholeheartedly concur!

So, how do we achieve that, as writers? I think Lin Oliver, author, Executive Director of SCBWI, as well as one of SCBWI’s founders, really said it best at this past weekend’s conference. Lin quite succinctly said, “Be fierce. Create from the depths of what you feel.” Again, I concur. I believe that when we allow ourselves to be present to our feelings, and as artists we mine those feelings, that the results—our creations—can achieve the ability to authentically evoke feelings in others. Being present to the essence of funny. Being present to the finality of our own mortality. Being present to our grief or relief or fear or love or whatever. Being fierce.

So go do that, fellow writers! Be fierce.

 

 

 

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“Never Have I Ever” for Writers

imagesRules of the game: I make a statement about writers or writing. Anyone who has done the thing that I’ve said, must take a drink (or whatever your vice might be).

Warning – of course you must be legally eligible to take said drink and not planning to be responsible for small children or operating a motor vehicle or heavy machinery any time soon. Writing is serious business, folks! 😜
So, here we go…
  1. Never have I ever finished writing my novel, novella, short story or poem
  2. Never have I ever gone back to revise one more time, after I said I was done
  3. Never have I ever had writers block
  4. Never have I ever written a stereotypical character
  5. Never have I ever info dumped
  6. Never have I ever used the words “just” or “almost” too many times
  7. Never have I ever been jealous of another writer’s success
  8. Never have I ever made an egregious grammar error
  9. Never have I ever used a word incorrectly
  10. Never have I ever looked down my nose at <fill in some genre of writing>
  11. Never have I ever wanted to quit writing altogether.
  12. Never have I ever told something when I could have shown it
  13. Never have I ever had a kind of dumb idea for a story and written it anyway
  14. Never have I ever written awful dialogue
  15. Never have I ever switched points of view without realizing it

Bonus, double shot question: Never have I ever thought I might have written the next blockbuster bestseller!

This is so disgusting to me I almost couldn't put it in the post.

This is so disgusting to me I almost couldn’t put it in the post.

Ok! Are you still standing? Did you get to the end without drinking (or whatever)? If you’re still standing and can see straight, go back and ask the same questions in Truth or Dare. Or while playing beer pong or quarters. Or from your Ouija board or tarot cards. Or just for the heck of it. If you’re not swinging full out, risking it all, making mistakes, sometimes falling into a pit of despair, chances are you’re not a writer and you meant to read a blog about 12 ways to clean your bathtub drain or something. That’s cool. Never have I ever successfully gotten all the hair out of my bathtub drain. I feel you.

Wait, you weren’t dumb about this, right? Because, you know, this blog post was metaphorically speaking. You knew that, right?  Um… Hey! Would someone out there get this reader some coffee, please?!

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