Welcome! You are following the Cemetery Path, and if you’ve never visited me before, feel free to look around. I’m the author of two YA historical novels, We Hear the Dead and The Caged Graves, and a MG fantasy series about a boy who discovers a secret day of the week hidden between Wednesday and Thursday.
If you’re one of my regular blog visitors wondering what the heck the Cemetery Path is, you can check out the Halloween Book Trail (and its multiple paths) HERE.
And now, for the Cemetery Path questions:
1. If your MC went trick or treating, what would they dress up as and why?
The main characters of We Hear the Dead (Maggie) and The Caged Graves (Verity) lived in the mid-1800’s, before the era of trick-or-treating. So, I’ll pick Jax, the main character of The Eighth Day.
Jax has recently discovered that his ability to experience the secret day of the week comes from his lineage. He’s a descendant of one of the Knights of the Round Table. Clearly, Jax would dress up as a knight for Halloween! Jax might even choose King Arthur himself – which would annoy Jax’s 18-year-old guardian, Riley Pendare. (A plus for Jax! Annoying Riley is one of his favorite things to do.)
2. What is the most haunted place you’ve ever been to?
I don’t know if it’s haunted or not, but the creepiest place I’ve ever been is the abandoned cemetery in Catawissa, Pennsylvania where the caged graves of Sarah Ann Boone and Asenath Thomas are located. I’ll let the photographs speak for themselves.
I knew as soon as I set foot in this cemetery that I would write a novel about these graves. You can find more pictures of these graves on my Pinterest Board.
3. Please share a photo of your favorite Halloween costume you’ve worn.
This is my husband and I dressed in steampunk attire, at Dorian’s Parlor in Philadelphia, a semi-regular steampunk ball held at the DoubleTree Hotel in Center City.
4. If the zombie apocalypse happened (and it will), what would be your weapon of choice?
A long distance weapon, please – to keep them as far away from me as possible! Daryl Dixon’s crossbow is pretty cool, but probably too heavy for me to lift. So I would like a high-powered rifle that fires lots and lots of rounds!
5. What is your favorite sentence/paragraph from your novel?
I’m going to choose the passage from The Eighth Day where Jax discovers the secret day for the first time. He’s riding his bike through a deserted town, wondering what happened to all the people …
He thought about zombies.
He thought about alien abduction.
He thought about Spongebob Squarepants and the episode where everybody took a bus out of town to get away from Spongebob for a day.
He thought about the old movie where Will Smith and his dog were the last creatures left on earth.
“Oh, crap!” Jax yelled, braking.
Will Smith and his dog had not been alone in that movie. There’d been other creatures that lurked in dark places and came out at night to kill …
I hope you enjoyed this stop on the Cemetery Path of the Halloween Book Trail. Please continue your journey at the blog site of Sarvenaz Tash, author of The Mapmaker and the Ghost, by clicking HERE.
I can hardly believe that Lenny Lee is already 15! Wasn’t he having his 11th birthday only last year?
Over the years, Lenny has brought joy into a lot of bloggers’ lives. His sunshiny avatar, his fondness for exclamation points, and his clever wit cheered us during our writing struggles, lifted us up after our failures, and celebrated with us over our successes. Lenny was one of my beta readers for The Eighth Day and The Inquisitor’s Mark.
When I retired earlier this year, Lenny sent me a gift of two mugs — one with the titles of banned books and one with the first lines of famous novels — and a lovely card wishing that one of my books would someday end up on a mug!
Lately, Lenny has been absent from the blogosphere. I know he probably has many important teenage things to do, like saving the world, defeating villains, battling monsters, and overturning despotic governments. (Pick up a YA novel and check out what the teenagers are doing. They’re all very busy.)
But this Birthday Blog Fest is just to let Lenny know how much we’ve missed him. Lenny, when you have the time, we’d love to hear from you! Tell us what you’ve been up to!
Today I’m participating in Alex Cavanaugh’s Under-Rated Treasures Blog Fest, highlighting books, bands, and movies that don’t get the attention they rightly deserve.
I’ve chosen to feature one of my family’s favorite movies – one that we traditionally watch every year on our family ski vacation: Better Off Dead (1985), starring John Cusack.
Northern California student Lane Myers is hit with a double whammy when he’s cheated out of his place on the high school ski team and his girlfriend Beth dumps him for the obnoxious ski team captain. (“Lane, I think it’d be in my best interest if I dated somebody more popular.”) Unable to face the rejection, Lane decides to end his life, but his attempts at suicide fail in various humorous ways while the French foreign exchange girl next door tries to gain his notice and escape her odious host family.
Better Off Dead never seems to appear on any “Best of the ‘80’s” lists alongside Ferris Bueller, Pretty in Pink, The Breakfast Club, and Sixteen Candles. But I think it belongs there. My experience with people and this movie is: Either they’ve never heard of it, or like me, it’s one of their all-time favorites and they can practically recite the whole script.
“Go that way. Really Fast. If something gets in your way … Turn.”
If you’re one of the latter, please share your favorite Better Off Dead quote in the comments.
And if you’ve never seen it, you can check out the Quote-Along Film Trailer below!
Welcome to this wandering tour of blogs by artists – writers, musicians, painters, photographers, and more. I was invited by April Lindner:
April Lindner is the author of two poetry collections, This Bed Our Bodies Shaped from Able Muse Press and Skin from Texas Tech University Press. She also has written three young adult novels—Jane, Catherine, and the forthcoming Love, Lucy, all published by Poppy. With R. S. Gwynn, she co-edited Contemporary American Poetry, in Longman’s Penguin Academics series. A professor of English at Saint Joseph’s University, she lives in Havertown, Pennsylvania.
While I wait on an editorial letter for the third book in the Eighth Day series, I’m working on the (painful) first draft of a middle grade science fiction adventure that I keep referring to as “string theory for kids.” The working title is BRANEWORLD. I’m also reading a book called The Ancient Alien Question by Philip Coppens and making notes for a possible future project. (So far, I’m pretty skeptical on the whole alien visitation thing, but I am convinced there were some extremely advanced ancient civilizations that history has forgotten, ignored, and denied. Fascinating potential for story-making!)
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Is my work different? I don’t know, but I hope so. My previously published books, We Hear the Dead and The Caged Graves are YA historical – which I’m told over and over is a hard sell. (Yet, I keep trying!) They are both based on true historical events that have never been completely explained.
As for The Eighth Day series, I hope its combination of contemporary setting, Arthurian-legend-tie-in, pop culture, humor, and mix of MG and YA characters will make it stand out among other kids’ fantasy adventures. Recent status updates from a teenage reader on Goodreads gives me hope that the book will appeal across the MG/YA gap:
I LOVE RILEY SO MUCH Jax too but RILEY! I feel a little weird developing such a huge crush on one of the characters… I mean this is middle grade… but hey at least the dude is my age.
As for BRANEWORLD, I can think of other fiction that explores the same math and science – but not for this age group, and nothing recent.
3. Why do I write/create what I do?
I write what I want to read — what I want to read now as an adult, and what I wanted to read as a kid. People can say all they want that YA Contemporary is the hot ticket item right now. It’s not what I read, and I can’t quite imagining writing it.
4. How does your writing/creating process work?
First there is a premise, and then there are characters. An inkling of plot comes to me, and I start writing the book WAY before I really have the plot pinned down. This leads to a lot of struggling and whining and hating my first draft – which is the point I’m at right now! When I finally get to the end of the first draft, I understand what the story was supposed to be about all along. Then I roll into the second draft with a plan and a purpose and revel in glorious revisions.
And yes, I have tried outlining before drafting. It doesn’t work for me. The story has to develop organically as I tell it, so in a way, the first draft is a really detailed outline itself.
Now I’m going to pass the blog hop torch to three more artists – who will participate next Monday, July 28. Please make note of (or possibly visit) …
CHRIS FRIES: Chris has been playing guitar since the age of 12 and writing since he could first put letters together. But so far, it’s been a labor of love rather than a means of obtaining fame and fortune (Not that he is opposed to them — he’s open to glowing accolades and financial enrichment should anyone want to lavish him with either). He has had several micro-fiction pieces published on various writing websites, and he plays on the worship team at his church. He is currently working on two science-fiction short stories and a historical mystery novel. He also records music that he shares on SoundCloud.com, wikiloops.com, and on his blog. Visit him at StratPlayerCJF.blogspot.com.”
CRYSTAL COLLIER: Crystal is a young adult author who pens dark fantasy, historical, and romance hybrids. She can be found practicing her brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. She has lived from coast to coast and now calls Florida home with her creative husband, three littles, and “friend” (a.k.a. the zombie locked in her closet). Secretly, she dreams of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese. You can find her on her blog and Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.
C. LEE McKENZIE: C. Lee McKenzie is a native Californian who grew up in a lot of different places; then landed in the Santa Cruz Mountains where she lives with her family and miscellaneous pets. She writes most of the time, gardens and hikes and does yoga a lot, and then travels whenever she can. She takes on modern issues that today’s teens face in their daily lives. Her first young adult novel, Sliding on the Edge, which dealt with cutting and suicide was published in 2009. Her second, titled The Princess of Las Pulgas, dealing with a family who loses everything and must rebuild their lives came out in 2010. Her short story, Premeditated Cat, appears in the anthology, The First Time, and her Into the Sea of Dew is part of a collection, Two and Twenty Dark Tales. In 2012, her first middle grade novel,Alligators Overhead, came out. Double Negative is her third young adult novel. You can find her at C. Lee McKenzie Books.
Raise your hands if you know the song Whip It! by Devo.
Okay, raise your hands if you sang along to it when it was first released. Huh. Who wants to admit that? Yeah, my hand is still raised, sorry to say.
D.L. Hammons and Elise Fallson are hosting the WHIP IT GOOD BLOGFEST, in which participants share details about their current WIP. I was a little hesitant to sign up, since my current project is pretty far along, but D.L. encouraged me to join in and share the details, so here goes …
WIP Title: The manuscript originally started with the title GRUNSDAY, but was renamed THE EIGHTH DAY by HarperCollins with my full support. I got to keep the term Grunsday within the story, but the new title is more dramatic, as befits a fantasy series.
Word Count: With some embarrassment, I can share that the word count of the first draft was 99k. Yikes! The word count of the current version is 62k. Yes, that IS a lot of cutting. I put on my Grim Reaper robe for that word-slashing. Although … you know what’s funny? In my editorial revisions, I had to put back a lot of stuff that I had previously cut and take out other things. Apparently my sense of what to delete and what to keep is a little off!
Genre: MG Fantasy
How Long Have You Been Working On It: The original story idea has been bothering me for a couple years. I started the first draft in April of 2012 and a had a draft to share with my agent by September. I did a round of revisions with my agent (which involved changing the audience from YA to MG), and the manuscript sold in October of 2013 to HarperCollins in a 3 book deal. I am currently awaiting the a third round of editorial notes before the book goes into copy-editing. The second book in the series already exists in draft form, but changes will have to be made so it aligns with the revised version of Book 1.
Elevator Pitch: A boy discovers an extra 24 hours between Wednesday and Thursday and a mysterious girl hiding in the house next door who exists only on that secret day.
Synopsis: When seventh grader Jax Aubrey wakes up to a world empty of people, he does what anyone would do: assumes it’s the apocalypse, ransacks the local Walmart, and fortifies his guardian’s house against zombies. When he wakes up the next morning to a normal Thursday, Jax wonders if he’s lost his mind. But his 18 year-old guardian, Riley Pendare, also experiences Grunsday, an extra day squeezed between Wednesday and Thursday. Jax learns that some people exist only on Grunsday, including the girl who’s been hiding in the house next door for the last 35 years — her life skipping over seven days at a time like a stone skimming across a pond.
A mysterious girl who knows nothing of the regular world? Jax can’t think of a better way to spend his extra 24 hours than trying to befriend her. But Evangeline is the key to a 2000 year-old spell with its roots in Arthurian legend. Jax’s guardian is her reluctant jailor, sworn to keep her out of the hands of those who would use her – and kill her if he can’t. When Jax accidentally leads a pack of human bloodhounds to their door, it comes to a terrible choice: face a real apocalypse or sacrifice Evangeline.
Are You Looking for a CP or Beta Reader: No, not for this project. But I love, love, LOVE giving feedback to others. See the sidebar for information about First Impressions, which I do every month — or come back next week to see it in action. And I’m also offering a 10 page manuscript critique as part of Project Middle Grade Mayhem’s 700 Follower Celebration.