Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Hanging of the Pumpkin Clock

I typically wait until October 1 to hang up my first Halloween decoration—the pumpkin clock shown here—but I figured it's already officially fall, and September only has two remaining days before it merges into my beloved Halloween month. Why not go ahead and enjoy autumn? So what if my thermometer is expected to jump above 80 today?

Fall tends to be one of my most productive writing seasons.  If you haven't noticed, I tend to gravitate toward dark, eerie, and out-of-the ordinary stories, and I find myself producing some of my best work when I'm surrounded with atmospheric inspiration, from the Halloween music playing on my computer to the blackening, moody skies outside my window.

Here are my goals for this particular October:

My backyard, October 2009.
1. Hope for the best for my novel In the Shadow of Blackbirds.  It's out with editors right now, and it could use all the crossed fingers and good luck charms anyone can spare.  I love this book.

2. Dive into research for a new writing project.  After a few false starts these past few weeks, I think I've settled upon a deliciously bizarre subject matter I'd like to tackle for a new novel.  I spent yesterday ordering research material from Amazon and libraries and plan to lose myself inside their pages as the weather cools down. 

3. Host a parade of entertaining Halloween-ish guests over at my Suburban Vampire blog.  Currently, K.A. Corlett, author of Ever Your Servant, is my featured writer, and in the coming weeks I'll be chatting with novelists such as Christine Cody and musician Kristen Lawrence, creator of the Halloween Carols™.

4. Prepare my son's Halloween-themed seventh birthday party.  Yes, I love Halloween so much, I even gave birth to one of my kids during the season (his birth wasn't specifically planned that way, but it was pretty cool to tell everyone I had a Halloween due date).  Every year we throw a kiddie costume party, and this time around we're having a mad scientist emphasis.  I'll be digging my lab coat costume out of the closet and preparing easy science experiments in our garage.

5. Convince my husband to watch terrifying movies and ghost-hunter shows with me. My viewing tastes tend to freak out my family (my daughter claims she's still having nightmares from when I showed her The Watcher in the Woods two years ago), so I sometimes have to sneak in my favorite eerie films late at night after everyone else goes to bed.

Farewell, September! I love the fact that both my sister and I celebrate our birthdays in the ninth month of the year, but I'm ready to plunge headfirst into October.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The R.I.P. Reading Challenge

Stainless Steel Droppings is hosting its sixth annual R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril Challenge.

Here's a brief overview of what the event entails, as described by the site's owner, Carl V.:

Regardless of what my thermometer tells me, my heart tells me that autumn is here and that it is once again time to revel in things ghostly and ghastly, in stories of things that go bump in the night. It is time to trail our favorite detectives as they relentlessly chase down their prey, to go down that dark path into the woods, to follow flights of fantasy and fairy tale that have a darker heart than their spring time brethren. To confront gothic, creepy, horror stories in all their chilling delight.

There are two simple goals for the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril VI Challenge:

1. Have fun reading.
2. Share that fun with others.

Are you up for some dark reading as we head into the Halloween season? I always have my nose planted in books that fall under the dark and ghostly category, so I'll be partaking in the challenge myself. I just finished reading Victoria Schwab's wonderful dark YA fairy tale, The Near Witch, and I'm now deep in the middle of Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus, a tale of late-19th-century magicians/lovers who are no mere illusionists.

If you'd like to join R.I.P. VI, head to  There's also a section for individuals who prefer dark tales on a screen.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

You Know You're a Historical Fiction-Writing Geek When . . .

The other week I posted the following tweet:

You know you're a historical fiction-writing geek when the words "in the public domain" have you doing air punches of joy.

Today at lunch, I realized I could probably write daily tweets that complete that same sentence opener. Therefore, here's an expanded version:


You curl up with your historical slang dictionaries as often as you snuggle up with your loved ones.

Costumes aren't costumes. They're business attire.

You spend hours obsessively trying to find the historically accurate type of cheese knife your character should be using in a scene that lasts only two pages.

You find yourself yelling Eiffel Tower elevator history out the window at your husband as he's trying to walk the dog. (Yes, this really happened.)

You shake your head at anachronisms in movies and wonder why the filmmakers aren't also snuggling up with their slang dictionaries.

You use the words "history" and "sexy" in the same sentence. Often. 

Your favorite scene from the original Twilight movie involves the vampires running around in historical caps and trousers.

The random, royalty-free history images you inserted on your website make you smile.

Experts in your particular era become your best email buddies.

You consider people who dress up for sci-fi conventions a little out there, but you envy historical reenactors.

Those brown historical site markers along the side of the road have you hanging your head out the window, drooling like a dog in August.

And most importantly, you know you're a historical fiction-writing geek when...

You're dancing on air when you read about other historical fiction-writing geeks signing books deals and hitting bestseller listsbecause you know they're just as wonderfully obsessed with the past as you are.

Here's to everyone who writes historical fiction!

Feel free to add to my list. It's far from being complete.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Little Extra Something for BLACKBIRDS (P.S. Check out My New Bird Socks)

My new bird socks from Sock it to Me.
I've been hard at work putting together a little extra something for In the Shadow of Blackbirds, which I'm hoping will give the manuscript an added oomph. I won't get into any details just yet, but it's a story-telling element that goes along perfectly with the subject matter of the novel. I'm not sure why I didn't think of it sooner.

I know... that's pretty much useless info if I'm not going to share any details, but I wanted to point out that even after working tirelessly on a manuscript for months and years, something new and spectacular can always be added to it. I've said it before: a relationship with with a manuscript is like a marriage. You go through honeymoon stages, bickering stages, and "We're going to get through this" stages. Sometimes you also need a spicing-things-up stage, which is what I'm completing now.

I truly hope I can eventually share In the Shadow of Blackbirds with the world. I'm madly in love with this novel and my characters, and I've now received so much help and input from various people, from my early readers to wonderfully hard-working museum staff members.  Thanks to everyone who's been journeying along on this ride with me!  Fingers crossed, we'll get this book out there.