Inspirations for Creepy

I love creepy. The spookier the better. In trying to figure out what to write next, I decided to give the Cobalt world a break and work on something dark and eerie (like Cobalt wasn’t?). I’m still working out the details, and trying to decide between two different story ideas that are taking shape.

Like many people, I’m inspired by other stories, music, and imagery. The following are a few of my favorite spooky inspirations. For some reason, I find myself really looking forward to Halloween now.

Neil Gaiman’s CoralineΒ is just like an old-fashioned ghost story complete with nightmarish illustrations. The movie didn’t disappoint either. Would have scared the crap out of me as a kid.

I just finished reading this one. The Ocean at the End of the LaneΒ had its creepy moments, but was, overall, a beautiful story written by an amazing author.

I read this book as an adult and had nightmares. I can’t see the upcoming movie being as creepy as the stories in this book and its sequels, but maybe we’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Stolen Babies knows how to do creepy when it comes to music and costumes. Heavily influenced by Oingo Boingo and Tim Burton, this band brings graveyards or nightmare carnivals to mind. Grubbery is about a couple of hillbilly cannibals who get a dose of karma when they find out their dinner doesn’t like being dug out of their graves. πŸ™‚

One of my friends on Facebook posted this great link on a gorgeous photo project that brings Grimms’ fairy tales to life, and provides more than enough inspiration for surreal settings and spooky forests.

And then…

Like her sister before her, this creepy 8-year-old left a bunch of scary photos on my phone that she edited herself.

She also touched up this one of her sister, which is creepy in a different way.

Do you have any other spooky or disturbing books, movies, or pictures to add to my list?

Meanwhile, CobaltΒ is on an editor’s desk awaiting approval or rejection and my fingers are cramping up from weeks of crossing them. Cross some of yours for me too, please!

Anyone Up For Some Dark Fantasy?

I don’t usually review books, but my friend Cherie just did a great post on her blog about a book series that looks pretty freaky, and it gave me an idea for a post of my own; I hope she doesn’t think I’m stealing! Head over to her post and check it out. She talks about a book series she loves, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it because lately I’m all about dark fantasy. This looks more like horror, but if it’s YA I’ll read it anyway. (I’m too much of a wimp to read general horror!)

Everyone expressed interest with the books in her comments, but a few people worried if they might be too scary for their kids to read. And that’s what brought this particular series to mind that I’m in the middle of reading: The Last Apprentice books, known as The Wardstone Chronicles in the UK – or The Mortal Instruments. The series is a dark fantasy revolving around 12-year-old Thomas Ward, a seventh son of a seventh son, who because of his lineage, has the ability to perceive things that ordinary people can’t: ghosts, boggarts, and other evil things that plague humankind. He takes an apprenticeship with an experienced Spook, one whose profession is protecting the county against supernatural creatures who threaten the residents.

The books can be downright spooky at times, but unless you’re like I was as a kid, they’re not likely to give you nightmares. Except, I warn you, I’ve only finished the third book in the series. The fifth book cover was the one that first got my attention at the bookstore. Now that one looks nightmare-inducing!

The storyline borders on Middle Grade, which depending on the content, I’ve also become a fan of. But one thing that bothers me is Delaney’s repetitive lapse into a passive writing style. He uses forms of “was” to describe everything in a scene. As someone who is constantly on the lookout for passive writing in my own manuscripts, this tends to trip me up and annoy me if “was” is used ten times in a single paragraph. However, the creepy villains and good character development make up for the sometimes annoying writing style.

I’ve also heard there’s a movie (or movies) coming out. I usually have mixed feelings when this happens. On one hand, there’s The Hunger Games, which I’m sure is going to be totally awesome; but then again, there was The Lightning Thief. Ugh. Sure, I’ll see the movie, but even if Hollywood screws it up I won’t get my knickers in a bunch over it, because I like The Last Apprentice but I’m not a rabid fan.

I suggest you give these books a look if you enjoy a good dark fantasy that won’t scare the pants off you, or if your kids like to be a little spooked but you don’t want them terrified. And from a writerly perspective, I was inspired by the creativity in each book’s plot.

Got any other super spooky dark stories to recommend? The creepier the better! Also, what about movie adaptations from books? What have you loved? What movies made you want to throw the book at the screen?

Some Mushy Stuff, and 99 Followers?!

So I don’t normally blog this much in one week, but my friend Ranee’ S. Clark is doing a really fun blog countdown to V-Day, and yesterday she featured me! I got to share two of my favorite romantic scenes from literary sources – either from a book I’ve read, a movie based on a book, or a scene from any of my own books. The funny part is, I don’t consider myself a romance writer, but I did have something to share, and it wasn’t the kiss scene from Cobalt that I shared here a few days ago! Seems like I’m getting all kinds of mushy lately, but that’s okay. I need to get over all the blushing and squirming whenever I even think of writing something romantic, because there’ll probably be more kissing in Cobalt. I have another dark fantasy idea after this that will probably get a little mushy. And in the third book of the Moongate series, there will definitely be some faces smushing together – in first person narrative no less, instead of secondary characters like in Cobalt – so I’d better get all that blushing over with early!

Check out Ranee’s countdown on her blog, starting with her first post featuring romantic little moi! And have a look below at some of my favorite romantic pairings of all time. Only a couple are book-based though, because I need pictures for my blog, and the movies and TV shows are where that’s at. *Grammar Nazi shudder*Β And keep reading after the pics, because I have a few more tidbits at the end!

Really, does this surprise you at all?

Ron & Hermione’s romance was very sweet, and long-awaited.

The Doctor/Rose. Rip-your-heart-out, tear-inducing bittersweetness!
But their kiss scene was about 30 seconds way too short.

That’s the sound of my impatience in waiting for this movie.

I like cartoons, all right? And this was a dang good cartoon, so shut up.

Well, looky here. Who’s that cute girl, and the slightly effeminate but adorable guy with a huge chip on his shoulder? Might they be a couple of characters I mentioned in Ranee’s blog?

Artist: Simplydelightful

Well, earlier today I was poking about my dashboard and my butt fell off the chair when I realized I’d made it to 99 followers!!1! I said to Lia, “Holy crap, I’m at 99 followers! 99 followers I am at, crappy hole!” And then we both froze and kinda looked at each other, and I mumbled something about totally not intending for it to come out that way, and we never spoke to each other about it again.

But. 99 followers, holy crap! I should do some kind of thingy to push that number over 100, but I have no idea what. So here’s a poll. It’ll expire on V-Day, because I said so.

And that’s about enough nonsense for one post, I think. G’day lovelies!

My Birthday Present!

Last week at writers’ group Dennis showed up unexpectedly. He announced his presence by sneaking up behind me and resting his chin on the top of my head, which didn’t get any reaction from me, much to my writer friends’ confusion. Well, I’m used to people hanging all over me! In fact – and I’m 100% not kidding here – just as I was typing that last sentence, Lia came up behind me and squished into the back of my head so she could see what I was writing. So at Barnes & Noble, I thought it was Lia or her friend Cheyenne who was being cuddly and I just let them carry on. But when some of the people in my group started casting amused glances over the top of my head, I turned and jumped out of my skin when I saw it was my husband instead of one of the kids!

He just said he wanted to show up and hang out and browse the books. I was like, okay, whatever floats your boat honey, I’m about to read my scene now so goawaykthanksbye.

When we were going home, I noticed Dennis and Eva whispering conspiratorially to each other. “Give it to her now!” I heard Eva say. Then I deduced something, and my sneaky deductions were correct. The hubby had gone to B&N to get me one of these:

My birthday’s next month, actually. And it didn’t really look like that. It was more like this:

And I was like “No I want it now!” *yoink* Because I already knew what was in the bag. The hubs had dropped some hints.

A shiny new Nook! I have a brown leather cover too, which I stole from Dennis because he didn’t seem to like it. See, he got himself one for Christmas. He’d been wanting one for a few months, and since he got a surprise bonus from his job I told him he should treat himself. It’s been a rough year and he really deserved it. I never wanted a reader for myself, though. I scoffed at them. I like the feel of pages between my fingers, and I love the smell of a new book. Yes, I do stick my nose in a book, quite literally, and I inhale deeply. Because I’m just creepy that way.

Well, poor Dennis didn’t get to use his Nook all that much over Christmas break. The kids took it for the coloring app and the little games he’d downloaded. I played Angry Birds for hours on end (I was really in the mood to smash stuff). He just wanted to read and watch Netflix movies, but we only let him have his reader long after everyone’s bedtime.

So when he started dropping hints that he might get me one for my birthday, I made that face that told him I’d really want one but he shouldn’t get it because we couldn’t afford it. I don’t know how he did, and I’m not asking. Because I kinda think I deserve a new toy too.

He uses his Nook mainly for reading really bad free or 99-cent D&D fiction, or watching movies. And now that I have one, he gets to use his much more often. It’s my turn to beat the kids away with a stick! I do have a book on it – Boneshaker by Cherie Priest, because I’ve lost the paperback twice and the second time I never found it – but the apps and wifi keep distracting me from reading! There’s Angry Birds, of course…

Because I’m an angry mama bird and still feel the need to smash things!

And this more-addictive-than-crack game called Doodle Jump. I think I need to ban myself from the apps altogether.

Dennis had done some research on the Nook, the Kindle, and the iPad. So I don’t know why Dennis chose the Nook over the Kindle; I have zero knowledge of the differences between the two, but he kept going on about how he was more impressed by the Nook. And the iPad was just too expensive. I don’t care, I’m happy because it works and it’s awesome, so no complaints from me.

What do you guys prefer? Nook, Kindle, iPad, or good old-fashioned book? If you have an e-reader, what do you use it for, besides books?

Although I’m in love with my new gadget, I really really love my messy desk with the teetering piles of “real” books. (I’d like a bookshelf someday, though.)

There’s not even room for my laptop in all that mess! Especially when Oreo wants in on the fun.

There’s just some kind of magical charm about a room full of books that an e-reader will never be able to replace. I’ll give e-books a chance, but I have a feeling my true love will always be one of these:

With real pages I can turn, stick a real bookmark in, and press into my face to inhale that dry, slightly musty scent that promises adventure and excitement. My Nook doesn’t have a scent that I can detect. Although I have to admit, the leather cover does smell pretty cool.

Now I’m off to play some more Doodle Jump…

100 YA Books Chain – What Have You Read?

I’m building a chain that I’ve recently seen in a few other blogs, but I saw first at my friend Robin Weeks‘ blog. I love to show off the books I’ve read, but I was also surprised by the amount of books on this list that I haven’t read. Some of them are in my TBR list, and some I haven’t even heard of (gasp!).

I also couldn’t help but add my comments or a mini-review in blue, although that was my idea – it’s not an official requirement of the chain.

If you decide to forward it, leave a link to your blog post in the comments because I’m nosy that way. πŸ˜‰ Which books do you think should or shouldn’t be on this list? Which ones should I add to my TBR list? (I love just about all YA fantasy, and I’m really getting into dystopian and post-apocalyptic stories too.) At the end of this post, I’m adding a few of my faves that aren’t on the list. I’ll probably come back and edit this post several times as I remember more!

Bold = I’ve Read It
Italics = I Own It
Underline = Started, didn’t finish

1. Alex Finn – Beastly
2. Alice Sebold – The Lovely Bones
3. Ally Carter – Gallagher Girls (1, 2, 3, 4)
4. Ally Condie – Matched
5. Alyson Noel – The Immortals (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
6. Anastasia Hopcus – Shadow Hills
7. Angie Sage – Septimus Heap (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
8. Ann Brashares – The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (1, 2, 3, 4)
9. Anna Godbersen – Luxe (1, 2, 3, 4)
10. Anthony Horowitz – Alex Rider (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)
11. Aprilynne Pike – Wings (1, 2, 3)
12. Becca Fitzpatrick – Hush, Hush (1, 2)
13. Brandon Mull – Fablehaven (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) LOVE!

14. Brian Selznick – The Invention of Hugo Cabret
15. Cassandra Clare – The Mortal Instruments (1, 2, 3, 4)
16. Carrie Jones – Need (1, 2, 3)
17. Carrie Ryan – The Forest of Hands and Teeth (1, 2, 3) I couldn’t continue reading this series, the narrative was so repetitive and the MC was shallow and selfish.
18. Christopher Paolini – Inheritance (1, 2, 3, 4) Didn’t love this series enough to finish it; too long and overly descriptive (sorry, Eragon fans!)
19. Cinda Williams Chima – The Heir Chronicles (1, 2, 3)
20. Colleen Houck – Tigers Saga (1, 2)
21. Cornelia Funke – Inkheart (1, 2, 3) Loved the first one, got a little tedious in 2 & 3 because of the writing style, “as if this,” “as if that” in nearly every paragraph! It drove me crazy.
22. Ellen Hopkins – Impulse
23. Eoin Colfer – Artemis Fowl (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) So intelligently written! Made-for-the-movies action.
24. Faraaz Kazi – Truly, Madly, Deeply
25. Frank Beddor – The Looking Glass Wars (1, 2, 3)
26. Gabrielle Zevin – Elsewhere
27. Gail Carson Levine – Fairest
28. Holly Black – Tithe (1, 2, 3)
29. J.K. Rowling – Harry Potter (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) Need I say more?

30. James Dashner – The Maze Runner (1, 2)
31. James Patterson – Maximum Ride (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
32. Jay Asher – Thirteen Reasons Why
33. Jeanne DuPrau – Books of Ember (1, 2, 3, 4)
34. Jeff Kinney – Diary of a Wimpy Kid (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
35. John Boyne – The Boy in the Striped Pajamas Saw the movie, I can’t read the book. I don’t like crying that much.
36. John Green – An Abundance of Katherines
37. John Green – Looking for Alaska
38. John Green – Paper Towns
39. Jonathan Stroud – Bartimaeus (1, 2, 3, 4)
40. Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl – Caster Chronicles (1, 2)
41. Kelley Armstrong – Darkest Powers (1, 2, 3)
42. Kristin Cashore – The Seven Kingdoms (1, 2)
43. Lauren Kate – Fallen (1, 2, 3)
44. Lemony Snicket – Series of Unfortunate Events (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13)
45. Libba Bray – Gemma Doyle (1, 2, 3)
46. Lisa McMann – Dream Catcher (1, 2, 3)
47. Louise Rennison – Confessions of Georgia Nicolson (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
48. M.T. Anderson – Feed
49. Maggie Stiefvater – The Wolves of Mercy Falls (1, 2, 3)
50. Margaret Peterson Haddix – Shadow Children (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
51. Maria V. Snyder – Study (1, 2, 3)
52. Markus Zusak – The Book Thief
53. Markus Zusak – I am the Messenger
54. Mark Haddon – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
55. Mary Ting – Crossroads
56. Maureen Johnson – Little Blue Envelope (1, 2)
57. Meg Cabot – All-American Girl (1, 2)
58. Meg Cabot – The Mediator (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
59. Meg Cabot – The Princess Diaries (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
60. Meg Rosoff – How I live now
61. Megan McCafferty – Jessica Darling (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
62. Megan Whalen Turner – The Queen’s Thief (1, 2, 3, 4)
63. Melina Marchetta – On the Jellicoe Road
64. Melissa de la Cruz – Blue Bloods (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
65. Melissa Marr – Wicked Lovely (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
66. Michael Grant – Gone (1, 2, 3, 4)
67. Nancy Farmer – The House of the Scorpion
68. Neal Shusterman – Unwind
69. Neil Gaiman – Coraline A must-read for anyone who loves a very creepy children’s story! LOVED it.
70. Neil Gaiman – Stardust Also loved this, but I liked the movie slightly better because I’m a sucker for happier endings.
71. Neil Gaiman – The Graveyard Book LOVE LOVE LOVE! When is the movie coming out?

72. P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast – House of Night (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 )
73. Philip Pullman – His Dark Materials (1, 2, 3)
74. Rachel Caine – The Morganville Vampires (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
75. Rachel Cohn & David Levithan – Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist
76. Richelle Mead – Vampire Academy (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
77. Rick Riordan – Percy Jackson and the Olympians (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
78. Rom LcO’Feer – Somewhere Carnal Over 40 Winks
79. S.L. Naeole – Grace (1, 2, 3, 4)
80. Sabrina Bryan & Julia DeVillers – Princess of Gossip
81. Sarah Dessen – Along for the Ride
82. Sarah Dessen – Lock and Key
83. Sarah Dessen – The Truth about Forever
84. Sara Shepard – Pretty Little Liars (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)
85. Scott Westerfeld – Leviathan (1, 2) I love steampunk, this is on my TBR list as soon as I’ve caught up.
86. Scott Westerfeld – Uglies (1, 2, 3)
87. Shannon Hale – Books of a Thousand Days
88. Shannon Hale – Princess Academy
89. Shannon Hale – The Books of Bayern (1, 2, 3, 4)
90. Sherman Alexie & Ellen Forney – The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
91. Simone Elkeles – Perfect Chemistry (1, 2, 3)
92. Stephanie Meyer – The Host [This, of course, is not YAβ€”not sure why it’s on the list]
93. Stephenie Meyer – Twilight Saga (1, 2, 3, 4) It was hard to be honest with this one, because I’m not a Twilight fan. LOL
94. Sue Monk Kidd – The Secret Life of Bees
95. Susan Beth Pfeffer – Last Survivors (1, 2, 3)
96. Suzanne Collins – Hunger Games (1, 2, 3) Loved these books – so, so much!

97. Suzanne Collins – Underland Chronicles (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
98. Terry Pratchett – Tiffany Aching (1, 2, 3, 4)
99. Tonya Hurley – Ghost Girl (1, 2, 3)
100. Wendelin Van Draanen – Flipped

Now – I’d love to hear about your favorites, either on this list or not! If you wish, forward the chain and let me know in the comments. If you don’t forward it, you’ll get a papercut. πŸ˜‰

Now for my additions to the list:

The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke – Charming and thoughtful
13 Treasures by Michelle Harrison – I’ve only read the first book, can’t wait to read the others!
The Faerie Wars series by Herbie Brennan – A little weird in parts, but action-packed
Bones of Faerie and its sequel, Faerie Winter, by Janni Lee Simner – This post-apocalyptic fantasy is creepy and paints fairies in a sinister light. I thought the first book was better developed than the second.
The Moongate, Blood Moon, and Cobalt by Kristin Baker Przybyla – Nothing wrong with a little wishful thinking!

Boo Hoo

Johnny Depp can be a crybaby on my blog any day!

Okay, I’m not ashamed to admit it doesn’t take much to make me blubber. Anytime we’re watching a sad movie, TV show, or commercial with sentimental music, my kids will turn to stare at me, and if I let out the tiniest sniffle there will be a chorus of “Are you CRYING?” Kinda ruins the moment.

But yes. I even got a little choked up while looking up the videos to these Top Three Scenes That Made Me Bawl.

(Disclaimer: Spoilers may occur in the following text and video.)

#1. The song Uncle Iroh sings in Avatar: The Last Airbender. (Yes, I’m an Avatar geek.) Avatar is full of scenes that make me go wah, but this one is the most memorable. I’ve seen this episode at least four times but it never fails–just when Iroh chokes up, my waterworks turn on. Time to pretend I got a cat hair in my eye, or the kids will start to point and laugh. Totally not fair, it’s a sneak attack because the rest of the episode is silly and hilarious, and then WHAM, this little scene ambushes you out of nowhere.

#2. Ending of Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride. I had a feeling the story would end tragically for at least one of the main characters. Still, it felt like someone had clomped me over the side of the head with a hammer. The kids had to pause the DVD while I finished sobbing so I could make it to the end credits. Beautiful, beautiful story.
I hate when embedding is disabled for Youtube videos. 😦

#3. Doctor Who: David Tennant’s last scene. SO many crying moments in Doctor Who, but I didn’t want to say goodbye to #10. This was one of the rare moments where the kids weren’t laughing at me because they were all crying as hard as I was!

Honorable mention (and only because it’s not out on DVD yet, or I’d totally be posting that video too): Snape’s memory montage scene in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows pt. 2. Snape’s death scene didn’t actually get me even though it was very tragic and horrible and well acted–probably because of all the girls who’ve been romanticizing him ever since the first movie, even though in the books Professor Snape is supposed to be gross and greasy, and definitely not a sexy, conflicted soul with amazing hair–I digress. Anyway, those girls screamed and squealed and ruined the scene for me. (Cursing annoying kids in a movie theater with a plastic wand doesn’t work, by the way). But the scenes in the pensieve, when Snape found Lily’s body and was, himself, sobbing. Oh my dear goodness. Kleenex time.

When I’m drawn into a great emotional scene in a book, it’s just as easy to lose it and cry as I would during any sad scene in a movie. Fred Weasley’s death scene in the book–I think I actually felt physical pain at that one. I was still reeling from his death when I got to the part where Harry sees Lupin and Tonks’ bodies in the Great Hall, and I don’t know why I didn’t just put the book down for the night. I was torturing myself.

Several other books have made me cry throughout the years–some I read in my early teens, yet I still remember the scenes that affected me: Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern; The Masterharper of Pern; Heart’s Blood; The Once and Future King; Flowers in the Attic; The Sleep of Stone; Bones of Faerie; The Hunger Games. And many others, I’m sure, that I’m not remembering.

What books or movies have made you lose it? Have you written any sad scenes in your own work that have either brought a tear to your eye, or hopefully tears from your readers’ eyes?