Friday, October 30, 2009

Tricky Treats

Let's be clear from the beginning: I am a fan of candy. In fact, judging from the tightness of my pants, I'm probably too big a fan. However, I've been thinking about the subject of candy a lot lately since everywhere I go someone's selling huge bags on the stuff in preparation for Halloween. Because when it's Halloween, forget about the ghosts and goblins. We all know it's really all about candy.

Today, I ate an entire large box of Junior Mints when I played hooky to go see a movie (shhh, don't tell my editor). These are a long-time favorite of mine. Chocolate and mint wins me every time. I'm also a fan of anything with chocolate and peanut butter--Reese's in both cup and piece form especially. And barring access to real chocolate, i've also been known to covet Tootsie Rolls.

When Halloween rolled around, these candies mentioned above always got hoarded, along with gum and Bit-O-Honeys. But everything else? Meh.

Every now and then I'll indulge in Jolly Ranchers or Skittles, but for the most part if there's no chocolate I'll pass. Is it me or is most candy these days just plain gimmicky?. Call me a candy snob, but I want to eat candy for the taste, not because some wisenheimer decided to make something gross out of sugar. Sugar goo doesn't sound appetizing in the least. Of course, I'm also a mom, so my dislike may stem from the ritual begging that happens at every check out counter Spawn and I pass.

But recently, I found a gimmick candy I can stand behind. Not because I've tasted it. Never that. But because it's just clever and gross enough to make me respect it.

Yes, my friends, it's blood candy. Not just any blood candy, but cherry-flavored blood candy. Because when I think about the taste of blood, synthetic cherry is always what comes to mind. I love that they included both a fake blood type and a medical-grade spout. Genius!

Now that said, since I've purchased this candy, I've had to hide it in my office. Call me crazy, but the idea of Spawn hopped up on a pint of fake candy blood scares the living shit out of me. But that doesn't mean you can't enjoy the goodness that is Blood Type X candy blood.

Leave your favorite Halloween candy in comments and you could win yourself one of these bad boys.

Snow Day

Jeanne here. Ever wonder what it's like to be snowed in? Here are some pics to give you a taste. We had one snow already in September-- THIS one was a son of a bitch. Pictures on the left, a typical snow fall. Pics on the right, yesterday's.

Believe me, it reads better than it lives.

You can tell the "today" pics are taken from inside. Snow was too deep to venture out! Also note, the street has disappeared. No snow plows in our neighborhood!

Mario, bless his soul, is missing all the fun. He’s gone to LA for the weekend. To party with Hollywood types. I imagine he’ll come back with lots of stories. Hopefully, that’s ALL he’ll come back with. This is what he said: I’m going to attend a tribute to Hollywood director Jesus "Chuy" Trevino (NYPD Blue, ER, The Practice, Law and Order, Star Trek: Voyager, Babylon 5). Basically I'm there to schmooze and pay my respects to him (and get away from you). And THEN he asks me to post for him at the Biting Edge on Monday. I’ll post for him all right.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I Vant to Bite Your Marks!

Wow, that sounds like a case for Germex. Or maybe a dot-to-dot enthusiast with a slight vampire fetish on the side. In reality it's just my cheesy way of saying, "Guys! I got a new book out! Like--now!"

It's called Bite Marks. You can see the spiffy new cover over here to your right. (Vanna, if you please?) And I'd wax poetic, but maybe you'd just like to attend my launch party over at Bitten by Books instead? Because I do some some 'splaining over there. And one of the impressive array of prizes includes a set of autographed novels provided by many of the ubertalented and extraordinarily gorgeous authors who make up this very League of Reluctant Adults. Pssh, yeah! But you gotta come soon, because the contest ends at midnight, October 29th. At which point I may just turn into a pumpkin. Or something.

See ya there!

Halloween Havoc: Wherein I Blackmail Jeff Strand into Blogging

All right. I didn't have to blackmail Jeff Strand to blog. I just threatened him a little. With a sharp implement. Hey, I had to contribute something to the Halloween Havoc, and I figured, why not force someone else to blog in my stead? Okay, okay. I'll throw in a contest for a $10 Amazon gift certificate. I'll pick a winner from those awesome enough to leave a comment. I'll announce the winner next Monday.

My first-ever Halloween costume was Mighty Mouse, which I think is a fine choice, especially since my fond Mighty Mouse memories have yet to be tainted by some new movie with a CGI mouse and poop jokes. Oh, it'll happen, and I'll whine about it on my blog, but for now MM remains the coolest of the cartoon heroes.

After that, I went on a multi-year run as Spider-Man. Sort of. The costume had a thin plastic mask, but the actual torso portion of the costume was not Spider-Man's uniform, but rather a picture of Spider-Man. That's how store-bought kids' costumes worked, if your only real option was the Safeway Halloween aisle in Fairbanks, Alaska in the 1970's. So if you wanted to be, say, Fonzie, your costume would be a rather grotesque mask of Henry Winkler, and a body-suit that had a picture of Fonzie with his thumbs-out going "Heyyyyy." It was pretty lame, but I was just there for the candy.

Years later, I desperately wanted this rubber over-the-head skull mask. It was $25--a fortune!!! I began to save and save and save, finally accumulating the necessary wealth. My parents said "Don't buy it now--if you wait until right before Halloween, it'll go on sale." Fools! I'd spent weeks saving for this thing, stressing that it would be sold out, and now I was supposed to wait? I ignored their lame-ass advice and bought my beloved mask. Right before Halloween, it went on sale for $12.50. I may have cried. Of course, I still have the mask, and it's now a valuable collector's item, so I can get my $25 back several times over whenever I want. Ha!!!

As an adult, for some reason I decided that "itchy and uncomfortable" was the way to go, and thus was born the Zombie Tourist, the Insane Doctor With Cuts All Over His Arms and Face, and the Magical Eyeball Man. In my professional author life, I've only worn a costume once, at a group Halloween signing where the bookstore manager asked everybody to wear costumes. I didn't want to, but when the bookstore manager asks you to wear a costume, that's what you do. So I got into my itchy and uncomfortable makeup and went to the signing. All of the other authors, being far more intelligent, had said "Screw that, I'm not wearing a Halloween costume to a booksigning," and so I looked like an idiot the entire evening. But the manager liked me best.

This year? I'm going to rip out all of my hair, install a caffeine IV drip, and be Author On Deadline.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Shreveport Smackdown

As many of your are aware, our own Dr. Peeler's Tempest Rising is hitting stands on November 1. This is exciting because Nicole's one of the League's debutantes, and we're always excited when one of our own pops their cherry has a big debut book launch.

To help Nicole celebrate this auspicious occasion, I'll be heading to Shreveport on November 7 for a joint signing at the Barnes & Noble. Yes, apparently there's only one in Shreveport. Anyway, here's the deal: Nicole thinks this is going to be a typical joint signing--readings, Q&A, etc. But the truth is, I'm a little pissed that Dr. Peeler's been spreading dirty rotten lies all over the internet about how selkies are better than vampires.

I think we all know vampires rawk the most. Would you rather have an immortal with fangs get your back in a fight ... or a seal? I thought so. Also, I'm pretty sure I can take Nicole. She's feisty and agile, but I've given birth to a twelve-pound baby so I'm pretty much immune to pain. Plus, I can rap the Beastie Boys like no other, unlike some people whose rapping sounds like a dolphins getting sodomized. Just sayin'.

So the truth is I'm heading down to Shreveport to challenge Dr. Peeler to a cage match of epic proportions. It's the ultimate show down to decide once and for all whether vampires or selkies will reign supreme in urban fantasy. Think cat fight, except with more F-bombs and snark.

Place your bets now, ladies and gents.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Giligan's Island Redux

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale,
A tale of a fateful trip
That started from this little town
Aboard this Toyota…. something that rhymes with trip.

So it’s not as good as the original Gilligan’s Island lyrics, but I’ve had a rough couple of days. Saturday, Rachel, proprietress of, and I were scheduled to speak at a paranormal panel at a library in Hardin County, Ky, which is a three-hour drive away from Paducah. We decided to ride together to be environmentally responsible and because we have fun when we get together. We have similarly sick senses of humor. And because I’d never been to this library branch and had no idea how to get there. However, Rachel and her husband, Clif, have made several trips to Radcliff.

This becomes important later.

We started our trip about four hours before we were due at the library, figuring that would give us extra time to arrive. We took off down the interstate, Clif tells Rachel, be sure to tell me when to turn onto the West Kentucky Parkway. Rachel and I start talking about books, interesting little publishing anecdotes, etc. The next we know, she says, “Hey what’s that building doing there?” I look up and say, “I think we’re in Clarksville.”

As in Tennessee.

From there we managed to drive up to Bowling Green, only to realize we’d taken several more wrong turns (each of us leading the car astray at least once) and would never make it in time. We called the library to explain our mind-boggling ability to take a wrong directional choice in any given situation. We pleaded, groveled and begged apologies, then rescheduled the event, which had been plagued with other complications… that were in no way related to our collective dysfunctional internal compass.

We headed for Nashville, thinking it would be easier to just catch the interstate and head back up (through Clarksville, ironically enough.) to Paducah. We stopped at this great aquarium-themed restaurant (you know how I love captive fish.) We were still having a pretty good time together, an adventure, despite the fact that we’d accomplished nothing but have lunch that day. We departed the restaurant knowing exactly which way to get the interstate to get to Kentucky…

Famous last words. Rachel and I started talking again and then I said, “Hey guys, did that sign say, 15 miles to Bowling Green?”

And that’s when I started hyperventilating a little bit.

Long story short, we called my husband, who thought I was teasing him when I explained that I was in Bowling Green at the time I was supposed to be returning home.

“Did you put Toonces the Driving Cat behind the wheel?” he asked, because he loves to reference obscure Saturday Night Live characters.

After he figured out, A) I was NOT kidding, and B) I was just this side of panicky, he stopped teasing me and explained the fastest way home from Bowling Green. And every time we approached an important turn, Rachel and I shut the hell up.

Right around Princeton, Rachel says, “Oh, no.” And I thought, “If she forgot something important in Nashville, I am getting out of the car and hitchhiking home to Paducah.”

“I jinxed us!” Rachel said. “This morning, I sang the Gilligan’s Island theme song and joked about how funny it would be if our three-hour tour turned into us being lost all day!”

Then, I spent the next hour trying to figure out which one of us was Gilligan in this situation.
Final answer: We were all equally guilty of wearing the goofy white hat at some point during the day.

The lesson in all this is that one, stuff happens. The most reliable people on earth can screw up big time and sometimes there's just nothing you can do about it but apologize profusely. And two, if you're going to get lost repeatedly, and spend ten hours in a car with people, make sure it's people you have a lot of fun with.

Friday, October 23, 2009


I'm not sure if this is appropriate...

What's odd about the trailer has the opposite effect from its message.'s Friday.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


I know, I'm incredibly annoying. Everyone's all, "Dude, what are you doing for Halloween?" And I'm all, "OMG THAT'S WHEN MY BOOK COMES OUT HELP ME HEY-SEUSS AAAAAGH." And then I reel a bit, and maybe swoon, and definitely flutter a hand in front of my face.

I'll try to catch that on video for you.

In the meantime, I've got a CONTEST to win some fabulous prizes at my site, here, and you can weigh in at Orbit's site on the HOTTEST NEW DEBATE SINCE THE HEALTH CARE ISSUE (really).

Thanks! And now back to Halloween Havoc. I'll celebrate next year. Really.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Ladies and gentlemen, Halloween guest blogger Amber Benson!

We have a very special treat for this spooky, spooky season, folks. Please give a warm League welcome to our guest today, the lovely and talented Miss Amber Benson.

Amber is known for a variety of things. Number one reason for her fame, of course, is that she is a SUPERFAN of my Simon Canderous series, which proves both her wit and intelligence. She even gave me a keen quote for book three. She is also remarkable in that she and I share a pub date for our urban fantasy series. The second book in her Calliope Reaper-Jones series , Cat's Claw, comes out on February 23, 2010, which gives you plenty of time to run out and get book one in it, Death's Daughter. She is also a director, producer, and actor best known in our paranormal little corner of the world as Tara Maclay from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

What I found out earlier this year, and it should come as no surprise, is that Amber is also one of the sweetest people I have ever met. Ridiculously so. When I asked her to guest blog about Halloween and how it figures into her life, she jumped at the chance with her usual charm. So read on, true believers. Feel free to give her some love in the comments and we'll see if we can coax her out of her writer hole to speak up in the comments. Without further ado, here is Miss Amber Benson and her tale of a Halloween long ago.

Why Plastic Jack-O-Lanterns Suck
(all names have been changed to protect the not so innocent)

I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama in a suburb called Mountain Brook. It was the place where all the doctors and lawyers and other white-collar professionals lived with their big houses and their Mercedes convertibles and their tennis courts––and this whole suburban wonderland was overseen by a giant wrought iron sign that read: Dunbarton.

Which was our subdivision.

Anyway, I think I was six the Halloween that the orange, plastic, Jack-o-Lantern buckets got mixed up.

Upper-middle class suburban Halloween time:
A bunch of high-strung, neurotic Jewish father’s taking their easily excitable progeny out trick or treating in the windy––and usually wet––autumn night.

Of course, when I say ‘night’ what I actually mean is like 6:30pm–– when the sun has just set and twilight is still lingering.

In my neighborhood there were tons of trees and tons of land between each house. That meant there was a lot of walking just to get a handful or two of candy. As we made our way through the neighborhood we saw that a few houses here and there had been decorated for the occasion, but mostly these new monstrosities just sat in the dark, unadorned, as if it were any other night of the year.

My dad, a psychiatrist who loves to make absurd jokes and harass (his word, not mine) his children and the friends of his children, was saddled with my little sister and me for the evening. I was dressed like a witch with a black pointy hat that had impotence issues, a black dress, green face paint and a putty mole on the end of my nose––don’t ask me why I went green because I don’t know why. I guess I was just channeling the Wicked Witch of the West that year. My sister, who was one and a half, was dressed as Charlie Chaplin in a pink onesie, white pancake make-up, back eyeliner eyebrows and mustache and a tightly curled black wig––if you’re thinking mini-baby afro with a Hitler mustache then you’re halfway there.

Accompanying us was my best friend, Carla, her sisters and her dad, a dermatologist and, also, my dad’s friend. Carla was Raggedy-Ann that year, I think. (There’s a picture of the two of us from that night––pre-Jack-o-Lantern mishap––floating around out there somewhere, but I’m too lazy to call my mom and verify this piece of information.)

Let me state now how idiotic it was that instead of individualized bags and other candy collecting receptacles, we all had the same orange, grinning plastic Jack-o-Lantern buckets. You’d think if everyone was gonna have the same thing then someone would’ve been smart enough to put names on the damn things, but no, there was absolutely no way to tell anyone’s Jack-o-lantern apart from anyone else’s.

Remember this fact as we continue:

Things proceeded normally for the first hour or so, but as it got wetter and we kids got cranky from the walking and sugar consumption, the mood turned. Instead of excitement at each house, there was complaining and pissed-offness as our rag-tag assemblage trudged (seemingly) forever onward.

My dad had to carry my sister cause she didn’t really walk that well, so he was getting tired––and his bad back was starting to twinge––from the extra baby Chaplin poundage. I was giddy with sugar and the freedom of being out at night where all the scary things were supposedly happening. As the night wore on and these scary things did not appear, I became agitated.

I have no idea whose house we were hitting up for loot when everything came to a head, but it had a long red brick walkway and an impossibly large set of red brick stairs bordered by what seemed like acres of very green lawn.

In the heat of the moment, my friend, Cara, and I, as we approached the front door and fought over the doorbell, got our Jack-o-Lantern buckets mixed up as. I don’t know how these things happen. One minute, everything is fine and then suddenly the crap had hit the fan and everyone is freaking out. There were tears, recriminations, calls of cheating, etc, etc. It seemed that we both wanted the same Jack-o-Lantern, regardless of whose it actually was––for some reason one of the buckets had become defective and was now lesser than the other bucket in absolutely no discernible way.

My friend and I, it seemed, were going to come to blows over this Halloween mix up. I was getting really riled up and I had only in the past few years given up my penchant for biting, so things might’ve gotten really crazy if my dad hadn’t taken it upon himself to pluck both plastic Jack-o-Lantern buckets from us, put them behind his back and switch’em all around until neither of us knew which was what anymore. Finally, after much deliberation, we each picked a hand and that was the Jack-o-lantern we got to keep.

My dad was considered a hero for his quick thinking and the evening moved on, only a little worse for wear.

Now, I could say that we were both satisfied with what we got and that we stayed best friends from that day forward forever more––but that wouldn’t really be the truth. Life doesn’t work that way, as everyone knows. Friends come and go, as does the need to dress up and ring your neighbor’s doorbell and demand that they give you candy.

That night, we just both knew we had been outfoxed by my dad––with logic, no less!––and, therefore, we had no leg to stand on, nothing with which to protest the injustice we had both just suffered.

We were screwed.

Still, I learned a very valuable lesson that Halloween. One that to this very day I have never forgotten:

Plastic Jack-o-Lanterns suck.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Horrible Horror Movies...

I am known for having bad taste in movies. And the wealth of Halloween-themed movies playing is practically a bad movie buffet to satisfy my cravings. If you enjoy schlocky brain candy and you see the following showing on cable, STOP IMMEDIATELY and watch.

The Fallen Ones (2005) - A giant Egyptian mummy is unearthed in an American desert, then comes to life when his angel father decides it’s time to rain down some Biblical destruction on humanity. Thank God Casper Van Dien and Robert Wagner (Robert FREAKIN Wagner!) are there to stop it.

The Crow: Wicked Prayer (2005) - David Boreneaz as a sociopathic thrill-killer who murders Edward Furlong’s girlfriend as he leads his merry band of Satanists to ritual guaranteeing …. Oh, Lord, I don’t know. I stopped caring when Dennis Hopper made an appearance as a psychotic pimp. After that, I just watched it for the “train wreck in slow motion” factor. I love me some David Boreanaz, but I think there’s a reason he hasn’t made many movies.

The Crow: Salvation (2000) – Apparently, when a serial killer sews your mouth shut, you can just cut the stitches out and continue talking/fighting off said serial killer without any problems. Well done, Kirsten Dunst.

P.S. Stop with the freaking Crow sequels already!

Route 666 (2001) - Lou Diamond Phillips. Federal agents who make time on witness transfers for some back-seat nookie. And zombies who kill people with jackhammers. Need I say more?

Children of the Night (1991) - Amy Dolenz and Peter Deluise against a wholesome all-American town turned vampire. Possibly the only vampire movie in which the undead sleep underwater, breathing though exterior lung-sacs. Yes. Really.

Abominable (2006) – A new take on Sasquatch. And boy, Sasquatch is pissed. Next shown at 11 a.m., Oct. 28 on SyFy.

Boo! (2005) – As if you need more reasons not to visit creepy abandoned hospitals. This one’s interesting in that the ghosts can take over dead bodies, and when they’re destroyed, the bodies explode into goo. That’s pretty much all that’s interesting about it.

Shallow Ground (2004) – OK, this title is actually a pretty high concept venture. Victims of violent death return from the grave all over the world to exact revenge on their murderers. And when you’ve killed a whole bunch of people in your work as a creepy “turn people into life-size puppets” serial killer, they all merge into one unnerving blood-covered super-victim. If not for the terrible, terrible acting, this wouldn’t have made my list. But it does star Stan Kirsch, my favorite supporting actor from the Highlander series. You can catch this one at 3 a.m., Oct. 24, on SyFy.

Mortuary (2005) - This movie actually scared me pretty badly. A widow takes over a decrepit funeral home in an effort to make a fresh start for her two children… because decrepit funeral homes are a great place for kids. Honestly, who would be surprised when zombies start popping up? What makes this one different is that the zombies are created by a gross, oozy substance that crawls up from beneath the funeral home through the walls and plumbing. Seriously, try taking a shower if you can make it all the way through it.

And finally: Piñata: Survival Island (2002) – I tuned into this movie because it “stars” Nicholas Brendon, my dearest Xander, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Xander and his college buddies, including Jaime Pressley, have learned nothing from any horror movie, ever, because they use their spring break to isolate themselves on a remote island with their sorority/frat friends for drunken fun and games. Should it have been any surprise when an evil piñata comes to life and murders them all? OK, in that situation, I probably wouldn’t have guessed “evil piñata” right away, but still…

From what I’ve read, Brendon and Pressley showed up to the set thinking that the movie was supposed to be a parody of bad horror movies, and found out too late that they were wrong. I’m choosing to believe that. And this one is showing at 4:15 a.m. Oct. 29 and 9:45 a.m. Oct. 30, on AMC!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Still legal in 49 states

This is cross-posted from my personal blog and is a little more...oh, let's say, diplomatic and politically-minded than something I'd post here at the League. I was going to snark this up, but really, I think the awesomeness speaks for itself. You may insert your own snark.

My birthday's in less than a month, but today I got an early surprise. Guess what?

The Vampire Academy series has been banned! In Texas!

Okay, to be fair, the VA series has been banned by only one school district in Texas, but still. Wow. Who knew? The Texas ACLU just released their Free People Read Freely 2009 Report, which talks about all the banned book activity in Texas public schools over the last year. Artist friend John Picacio sent the link to me today, in which I learned that I was the second most challenged/banned author in Texas this year. I suspect this is probably only because JD Salinger doesn't have as many new books out right now. What's especially amazing is that this school district even made a pre-emptive strike and banned Spirit Bound along with the other VA books, even though it's not out yet.

What are my thoughts on this? Well, the short answer is that I think banning books violates the U.S.'s first amendment. I'm not always thrilled by my country's choices, but freedom of speech is one of our most precious and amazing features. Am I mad or upset about this school district's decision? No, not at all! If anything, I'm kind of humbled and amazed that I would actually join the banned ranks of greats like To Kill a Mockingbird and 1984. I keep trying to imagine a book banning committee saying something like, "Well, that concludes our discussion on the social messages in Lord of the Flies. Let's move on to...Vampire Academy." Really?

To give you a longer and more diplomatic answer about my thoughts, I'll simply repeat what I told John in the great article he and his pals did over at Missions Unknown. He had nice things to say about VA and the issue as a whole, so you should check the entire article out. I remarked:

As a former teacher, I absolutely respect and encourage parents to be a part of what their children are reading. However, banning books outright from schools and libraries takes this right away from families and denies them the chance to make their own decisions. It also flies in the face of the rights our country has always prided itself on, freedom of speech being the biggest. In my experience, many banned books are some of the greatest and most thought-provoking pieces of literature out there. Being in the company of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Robert Cormier is an honor.

I stand by all of that. I know districts like these have good intentions. I just don't think banning a book is the right solution. It's a gateway to other dangerous forms of discrimination in our world and limits our power to choose and think. Does that mean kids should be reading everything out there? No, but as I said, that's where parents or other guiding figures are hopefully stepping in to discuss the matters intelligently. I've always heard that the most powerful books are those that people either really love or really hate. I sincerely doubt this school district truly hates me or my books, but knowing I've created something that can trigger emotional reactions and make people pause to examine my messages is a pretty heady thing.

Many thanks to John for the info on this and to the readers who have supported me. I hope nobody will turn this into a Texas slam-fest because I actually love going to Texas and have met some of my most amazing readers there. And lastly, I want to offer kudos and applause to all those writers who have taken much, much bigger hits for their books over the years than this YA vampire author. You are truly great.

Sorry, what month is it again?

I keep having to remind myself what month it really is, because when you say "Halloween," all I hear is, "month for launching Tempest Rising."

So I will, eventually, talk about this "Halloween" of which you speak, but first some updates:

I write this from NYC, where we just held the launch party for Tempest Rising. It was sponsored by Balvenie and Sailor Jerry, and it could not have been more fabulous. There will be a blog post forthcoming at my site, complete with pictures, very soon.

We've also released the cover for Tracking the Tempest. You can find out more at Orbit's website and at mine.

The Italian rights for Tempest Rising have sold, and hopefully we'll get some more exciting international news from the Frankfurt Book Fair.

There's also a first chapter, as well as a slew of new reviews out for Jane True and Co., which you can see here.

That's me, in a nutshell. Actually, I'm rarely in a nutshell, but I am often layered underneath piles of freshman composition papers. This is almost like being trapped in a nutshell.

And now to Halloween. Obviously, I love this holiday. Who doesn't? This holiday, however, I'm doing something slightly different and Officially Running Away to an Undisclosed Location. Seriously. It's the weekend of the official launch so I'm dealing with all that stress in a very mature manner: by fleeing for a weekend of relative debauchery. That's all I'm saying on the matter.

But I remember my less debauched Halloween youth very well: the dressing up, the candy, the crying when my much older brother STOLE MY GOOD TREATS.

My absolute favorite house to visit at Halloween was our neighbor's, the Buchner's. They owned a local bakery, and would give out their unbelievably delicious chocolate donuts, replete with black and orange sprinkles, to trick or treaters. I still love me a donut, and these were probably some of the best cake donuts that have ever existed on the planet, ever. I'll throw down for those donuts.

When I got home from trick or treating, that donut would always be the first thing I ate, with a glass of milk.

What was your favorite treat at Halloween?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Interiors by SATAN!!!

One of my favorite parts of Halloween, in addition to the glut of horror movies, the rainy days and chilly nights, and the All Hallow's Eve baby sacrifices, is decorating the house up like Lon Chaney's breakfast nook.  I start where any sensible, morbidly-inclined zombie writer would, the mantle.

This year, it looks like this...

It's been a work in progress. Last year we added the zombies attacking the townsfolk (b-movie victims playset).

This year all we added was the Halloween movie theme sensor-activated skull lights to the black tulle swag. Drives the dogs insane, all accept Chaz who relishes it, evilly. Unlike baths, which he detests. Here, share in his misery...

Some places just need a little festive flourish because they're already disturbing, like this French Absinthe ad gets a fresh update with a massive jack-o-lantern on a stand...


What are your favorite Halloween decorations. Do you have pictures? Links? Show us or just tell us.  We'll get the gist.

And while you're hanging out. Here's a fitting seasonal music video from The Horrors!


It was a beautiful roast. Nice slab of fat on the bottom, but only slightly veined through the rest, which was thick with quality meat that would be so tender after I was done cooking it that it would literally fall off the fork when I tried to scoop it out of the crock pot.

The project started great. I seared the roast in an iron skillet. Locked the juices in and added a little extra yum at the same time.

Then I set the meat in some water with bay leaves, salt, and pepper. And left. Yeah. Forgetting to turn the frigging crock pot on.

I think this is how the Swamp Thing was spawned. No human mom and alien dad. No reptile/human DNA fusion. Just a damn roast that some distracted author forgot to cook and then, with regret bordering on plate throwing, had to throw out. One lightning strike later you've got a walking, hissing serial killer with the hots for screaming women who conveniently pass out so they can be carried around the Everglades like lazy queens. The bright side? Swamp Roast Thing probably smells delicious.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Guest Post: Nancy Holzner's Guide to Fending Off A Zombie Attack While Trick-or-Treating

Yep, you read that right. How to fend off and/or prevent a zombie attack while Trick-or-Treating. We all know zombies are on the rise, so urban fantasy author Nancy Holzner agreed to join us today with her tricks on avoiding such a catastrophe.

Welcome, Nancy!


In the town where I live, my neighborhood is trick-or-treat central. Last year, we gave away 20 pounds of candy to 565 trick-or-treaters. (Yep, we know the exact number. My husband sat on the front porch with a clicker to count them all.) Kids descend on our neighborhood from other parts of town, from the surrounding farms and villages, even from other cities. Because trick-or-treating is so popular on my street, I understand better than most how nothing spoils Halloween fun like a zombie attack.


So I’ve put together this list of safety tips for trick-or-treaters who want to be prepared in case the walking dead come moaning at them out of the shadows:

1. There’s safety in numbers. It’s always best to trick-or-treat with a group of friends. And don’t forget to take along a trusted adult. That way, when the zombies attack, you and your friends will have enough muscle to push the grown-up at the zombie before you run the other way.

2. Carry a light. Zombies have a well-known aversion to light; dazzle an attacker by shining a beam directly into its eyes. And of course, a heavy flashlight can double as a blunt instrument. Flaming torches are preferable; however, all but the most zombie-aware parents will probably nix that idea.

Bonus safety tip: On the off chance that your parents are cool enough to let you carry a flaming torch on trick-or-treat night, be sure to wear a flame-retardant costume.

3. Choose a suitable costume. Whether you want to be a ninja, a bride, a witch, a zombie (see next tip)—whatever—make sure in advance that your costume is suitable for both running and fighting. (This means that sensible shoes are a must.) After all, you don’t want to trip over a sheet, a long skirt, or an oversized pair of clown shoes, only to go sprawling and end up with your brain eaten.

4. Don’t be fooled. With everyone in costume, it can be hard to tell a real zombie from a pretend one. Check for the telltale signs of a true zombie: a stiff, shuffling gait; soulless eyes that may be milky, blood-red, or black; fresh blood (the real stuff) smeared around the mouth and chin; an inability to articulate beyond moaned monosyllables. If in doubt, ask the suspected zombie which house has the best candy. If the only answer you get is “unhhhhh unhhhhh”—run.

Bonus safety tip: If you’re dressing up as a zombie this year, don’t overdo the moaning routine. If someone asks you which house has the best candy, answer in clear, intelligible English (or your preferred language). Otherwise, you may get a flashlight shined into your eyes or a flaming torch waved under your nose.

5. Be careful crossing the street. Okay, this one doesn’t have anything to do with zombies, but it’s obligatory on any list of safety tips. Use crosswalks, don’t cross in the middle of a block, wait for the Walk light, etc., etc.

6. Carry a cell phone. Have your local Zombie Response Unit on speed dial. Before you head out, practice running and calling at the same time.

7. Bait and switch, version I. Zombies aren’t very smart. Maybe that’s the reason they’re so fond of other people’s brains. Remember those lame fake brains everyone had to stick their hands into at your friend’s Halloween party? It was just a bowl of cold, slimy, overcooked macaroni. It didn’t fool you, but it just might fool a zombie. Carry a zipped plastic bag full of cold, slimy, overcooked macaroni. Offer it to the zombie as a convenience food.

8. Bait and switch, version II. It’s a little known but documented fact that zombies like candy [ See for yourself! ]. So if you don’t feel like carrying around fake brains on the big night, consider this alternative: Carry two trick-or-treat bags. At each house, do a quick evaluation of whether the candy on offer is the good stuff or the kind of crap that only your little brother would eat. Sort the good stuff into your bag and the crap into the zombie bait bag. When you encounter a zombie, confuse and distract it by giving it the bag of lousy candy. It’s not like the zombie will know the difference.

Bonus safety tip: Some particularly clueless grown-ups may hand out toothbrushes instead of candy. Do not put toothbrushes into the zombie bait bag. Zombies hate toothbrushes.

Remember—successful zombie fighting requires a combination of preparedness and improvisation. While these tips will help you to be prepared, keep in mind that, when a zombie attacks, just about anything can be used as a weapon—jack-o-lanterns, the neighbor’s cat, even bubble gum (when chewed in sufficient quantities to cause the zombie’s feet to stick to the ground). By thinking ahead and staying alert, you can repel zombies while you’re out scoring candy. Because a safe Halloween is a fun Halloween.


PhotobucketFor more information about Nancy, you can visit her website ( And check out Deadtown, from Ace, coming December 29!

Have you fended off a zombie attack while trick-or-treating? Leave a comment to share your zombie safety tips.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Scaredy-Cat Confession

I love horror movies (and no, that's not my confession). I've been watching horror movies since I was a small child. I loved Freddy Krueger and the Crypt Keeper. I remember watching Critters over and over on cable. The violence never registered on my radar; I loved the way the bounty hunter's face kept changing. My dad let me rent a schlocky, gory (and yes, cheesy, because this was the eighties) movie called Slaughter High and I watched it alone--as an eight year-old.


Thing is, those movies didn't really scare me. One or two very specific things freaked me out a little (Marty's laugh at the end of Slaughter High, for example, made me hide behind the recliner until the video tape stopped playing and it rewound itself). But for the most part, no. Not too scared of them.

I don't remember ever having a nightmare about Freddy or anything else in those horror movies.

Know what I did have nightmares about as a kid?


Yep. And not because it was an awful movie, and not because it starred Richard Pryor. No, because of the scene at the end when Annie Ross gets turned into a scary-ass cyborg.


GAH! I can't even look at that without shuddering. I RAN into the kitchen and HID during that scene the first time. And every time after I watched that movie on television, I hid. I hated that scene, but I loved Superman, so I'd watch any of the movies.


So that's my big Halloween, Scaredy-Cat Confession.

What's yours?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Guest Interview: Beth Fantaskey Returns!

You may recall our friend Beth Fantaskey, whom I interviewed earlier this year to discuss her fantastic YA vampire novel, JESSICA'S GUIDE TO DATING ON THE DARK SIDE. And you may recall my shameless, petulant whining for a sequel, expanding on the main character's relationship with her dark, brooding vampire prince, Lucius. Jessica Packwood has always known she was adopted. She did not know she was the last princess born to a noble and ancient vampire line. Or that she was promised in marriage to the son of a rival royal vampire clan in a ceremony just after she was born. When her betrothed- posing as a yummy, if somewhat arrogant foreign exchange student from Romania- shows up on her first day of senior year to demand her hand, her whole world is turned upside-down. As the book comes to a close, Jessica is faced with her greatest task yet, planning the royal wedding that will unite Lucius' house with her own.

While Beth has spent the last few months focusing on her next project, JEKEL LOVES HYDE, instead of catering to my every whim, she's done the next best thing. She's planning Jessica's wedding online!

So, welcome back, Beth! How have you been? How had life changed since we saw you last?
Beth Fantaskey: This fall has been crazy. I’m teaching two nights a week at a university, putting the finishing touches on Jekel Loves Hyde, “hosting” Jess and Lucius’s wedding (see below!), and of course seeing to the care and feeding of my five- and six-year-old kids. I swear, I had just thought, “Okay, I can handle all of this as long as nothing goes wrong,” when I fell down an entire flight of stairs and broke my hand. So now I’m trying to learn to do everything one-handed. It’s a little challenging! But it’ll all get done…
MH: So tell us about the online wedding package people can find at Be sure to mention the catch the bouquet contest, which has received more than 1,000 responses! (Wow!)

Beth: The wedding has been amazingly fun. Ever since my book came out, readers have been asking to see the main characters, Jess and Lucius, get married. So this summer, I asked fans to serve as “bridesmaids” and help me plan the wedding. They voted on the dress, the location, the music – and whether the ceremony should be sealed with a bite or a kiss, since Jess and Lucius are vampires. Now I’m writing and posting the wedding chapters on my website. It’s challenging to generate a few chapters every other day, but the response has been great. I’m hosting a “catch the bouquet” contest, and I have well over 1,000 entries already. (Thanks to everyone who’s left comments!)

To enter the contest and qualify for a prize package including a signed copy of Jessica's Guide, one of the very first advance copies of her new books, a T-shirt with the Jessica's Guide cover art, and other fun surprises, click here.

MH: Why did you start the additional online content? Was it because of shameless begging from people like me who desperately want a sequel?

Beth: I don’t like to use the word “begging…” But there have been a lot of sequel requests. Since I really couldn’t focus on that while completing Jekel Loves Hyde, I thought the wedding would be a way to thank everybody who asked for more of Jess and Lucius.

MH: Does it feel strange to plan a wedding for your characters? Does “Jessica” make the choices, or are you basically planning the wedding you always wanted?

Beth: No, this is purely Jess’s wedding! I see it all through her eyes – and the eyes of the readers who helped plan it. Although I have to admit, I’ve loved putting it all together. So romantic!

MH: Is this going to lead to another Jessica book? Or will it remain online content?

Beth: I am definitely seriously considering a sequel… but it’s too soon to make promises. If it does happen, the story would pick up after the wedding, which I’ll keep posted on my site.

MH: Tell us about Jekel Loves Hyde.

Beth: It’s the story of two teenagers who discover that they share a mysterious connection to the old Robert Louis Stevenson novel, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. As they work to solve the puzzle, they become more attracted – and more dangerous – to one another. It’s got lots of twists and turns – and romance, of course!

And it's available in bookstores and Amazon in May 2010.
MH:What’s next for you?
Beth: Getting this cast off! That’s the next big event on my calendar. (See how I skillfully avoided that word “sequel?”)

You're a slippery one, Beth! Be sure to check out Beth's contests and online content at

Friday, October 2, 2009

Character Graveyard is LIVE... so to speak

The new Character Graveyard feature at is up and going.

A while back, I joked with my agent, Stephany, that I needed to start an online memorial for my "fallen characters," - the characters cut from my manuscripts because they're bogging the story down. So, with the publication of NICE GIRLS DON'T DATE DEAD MEN, I am eulogizing the darker, creepier version of Adam Morrow, who was cut from DEAD MEN and NICE GIRLS DON'T LIVE FOREVER.

I'll add more memorials as more characters are ruthlessly eliminated.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Halloween Havoc Kick-Off



I honestly don't know where the year's gone. It's getting dark sooner, it's getting cold at night (it's that much closer to my and Nicole's release dates!). The leaves are starting to turn. Yes, folks, it's autumn.

Which means Halloween Havoc! All month, we'll be bringing you an assortment of guest blogs, interviews, personal experiences, maybe a beheading or two, and possibly a contest. It's that time of year, so put on your favorite costume and stay tuned here at the League!

I'll kick things off with this vid clip. It's the teaser trailer for my most anticipated film of October.

Who the HELL Do We Think We Are?

We're a bunch of paranormal romance and urban fantasy authors who occasionally blog, make filthy jokes and prowl the halls of conferences and conventions with switchblades!

Current roster: Mario Acevedo, Michele Bardsley, Sonya Bateman, Dakota Cassidy, Carolyn Crane, Molly Harper, Kevin Hearne, Mark Henry, Stacia Kane, Jackie Kessler, J.F. Lewis, Daniel Marks, Richelle Mead, Kelly Meding, Allison Pang, Nicole Peeler, Kat Richardson, Michelle Rowen, Diana Rowland, Jeanne C. Stein, K.A. Stewart, Anton Strout, and Jaye Wells