Search This Blog

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween: A Time for Snow and Santa Claus

Living in the Mid-Atlantic/Northeast has the advantage of being able to view changing seasons: leaves changing color in the fall, melting ice over the creeks in the spring time, blizzards on Halloween weekend...wait, what?

Normally, Halloween around these parts is either incredibly crappy (cold and rainy) or unbelievably gorgeous (60s/70s and clear). This year, Mother Nature decided to change it up with a snowstorm. While it wasn't anything debilitating, waking up to the white stuff in late October does not bode well for the rest of this winter. The Jack O' Lanterns (pictured above) looked pretty strange covered in frost.

In addition to non-traditional Halloween antics, I just watched a little movie called Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale. While it sounds like a film that should be saved for late December, it's nothing of the sort. This flick is a re-imagining of the Santa Claus mythology that harkens back to pagan tales of a blood-thirsty, child-stealing yule-time monster. Definitely worth a watch if you like your Christmas a little on the darker side.

Speaking of scary things, NaNoWriMo starts at midnight tonight! I'm anxious to get started but I'm nowhere near as ready as I was last year. Check back in for weekly updates and good luck to those who are attempting their first, fifth or fiftieth run this year!


Friday, October 21, 2011

R.L. Stine's Trick-or-Tweet Contest!

Halloween is fast approaching. (Do you have your costume picked out already? Or are you the type that wraps a sheet around yourself like a toga and calls that a costume?) I’ve got nothing spooky going on at the moment. Lucky for you, the master of “Goosebumps” has a nice Trick-or-Treat contest. Or should I say, Trick-or-Tweet?

R.L. Stine is hosting a contest through his Twitter account for one of ten signed copies of his new book, “It's the First Day of School… FOREVER.” Check out the book trailer for it here:

Pretty sweet, huh? So you can see how to enter the contest here or just look below for instructions. Good luck!



To enter the contest, follow these step-by-step instructions.

To enter, you must be following @RL_Stine on Twitter.
If you are already a Follower, go to Step 2.
To become a Follower, go to and click ‘FOLLOW’.


You must Tweet the exact text below to enter the contest:

Enter @RL_Stine ‘s Halloween Trick-or-Tweet Contest to win an autographed book! Please RT. Info at:

You only need to tweet this ONE time. Tweeting multiple times will not help your chances of winning.


Complete the scary story below in one tweet. Tweet your story ending with the hashtag #RLSTINE by October 28. Please make sure to put #RLSTINE at the end of your tweet so we can find your submission.

Submit as many story endings as you like. But each entry must be a single tweet.
R.L. Stine will select 10 winning entries-- his favorite story endings.

The winners will be announced on Halloween Day. Winners will receive a Direct Message on Twitter from R.L. Stine notifying them that they won.

Each winner will receive an autographed copy of the book It's the First Day of School… Forever by R.L. Stine. The winning story endings will also be featured on


It wasn’t my idea to run through the old graveyard on Halloween night. My friends Becky and Ian are a lot braver than me. It has always creeped me out to have a graveyard at the end of my street.

But here we were in our Halloween costumes. The moon was hidden behind a blanket of clouds. A gusting wind sent dead leaves dancing over the ground as if they were alive. And Becky said, "Come on, David. Let's go running through the graveyard, howling like wolves."

"Yeah. Maybe we'll wake up the dead," Ian said.

"I… don’t want to wake up the dead," I stammered. But I had no choice. I had to run with them. And so we went running through the old gravestones, our costumes fluttering in the wind. Running and howling at the top of our lungs.

It was actually fun—until I tripped over an open grave marker and fell to my knees in the dirt. And when I looked up, I couldn't see my friends. They'd vanished into the darkness.

I climbed to my feet, brushing off dead leaves. I called to Becky and Ian. No answer.
And then I gasped as I felt icy hard fingers grab the back of my neck. Icy fingers wrapped around my skin. With a scream of horror, I spun around—and…

Finish the story in one tweet—and tweet it with the hashtag #RLSTINE by October 28. Good luck!


PS: You can see my story entries by following @vincentkale and looking for the hashtag #RLSTINE.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Rick Riordan and the Olympian Week Book Tour!

Living in Pittsburgh has its benefits (he said before winter hits and he starts suffering through 5 degree mornings). We recently had The Dark Knight Rises film here, our sports teams are pretty good and it's often voted one of America's most livable cities. All that aside, Pittsburgh recently played host to Athena, Goddess of Wisdom. Though, Southside is more amenable to Dionysus, the God of Partying...

Somehow, we were one of 7 cities on Rick Riordan's Olympian Book Tour. The author of the wildly popular Percy Jackson series was touring for the release of "The Son of Neptune" in his "Heroes of Olympus" series. The author (who is very funny, humble and accommodating I might add) took some time out of his schedule to tell us a bit about his career and field questions from the hundreds of kids in the audience. Oh, yeah, I was roughly twice as tall as the average attendant...I sure didn't look out of place at all.

What I found most interesting about Riordan's talk was his path to publication. He started early on by writing a series of adult mystery novels and did fairly well. Then, Riordan was making up a bedtime story about Greek gods for his son when he simply ran out of mythology. His son not only encouraged him to make a story up on the spot, but to put that story to paper. Thus, Percy Jackson was born.

Out of something so simple as a shared interest in mythology between a father and a son, multiple series of best selling middle-grade/young-adult books were born. Riordan has masterfully cornered the market not only on Greek mythology, but now Roman mythology (which was done in a very clever way from both a literary and marketing standpoint), as well as Egyptian mythology in his Kane Chronicles and, eventually, Norse mythology when he can get to it. This isn't to say that there are no Gods left for the rest of us to write about (I'm partial to the Central/South American native Gods myself). Then there's always Jeff, the God of Biscuits.

Watch Roman Gods in Comedy  |  View More Free Videos Online at

But why settle for interpreting a pre-existing mythology when you can just make up one of your own? That's (more or less) what I'm doing at the moment as I'm wrapping up my current project. Without giving away too much, the story has to do with a race of people who view the trees as their Gods (which will make a heckuva lot more sense once you know what the rest of the story is all about).

I'm hurrying to finish that story in time for NaNoWriMo. This year, I think I'll tackle some Middle Grade once and for all. (Every other time I try, it ends up far too serious and morphs into YA or Adult.) The tentative title right now is: Spiderbeard and the Pirates of Black Sky. And here's the logline:

When habitual homework-hater Sam Muggins gets yanked up into the clouds by a giant fishhook, he finds himself standing on deck of a floating pirate ship crewed entirely by women. Together, they must prevent the dreaded Captain Spiderbeard from destroying the nine World Anchors, or face a world turned upside-down by the absence of gravity.

Nothing too awfully serious about that, is there? I'll keep you posted on my progress as usual! Until next time, go and check out some Middle Grade fiction. There are some fantastic stories out there that will make you feel like a kid again. Feel free to leave suggestions in the comments!


PS: As a side note, while I was at the Riordan tour, a friend of mine passed on the news that Steve Jobs had died. While this statement has been uttered many times within the past week, I thought it was a remarkable feat that the world learned of his passing through devices he helped to create. I echo countless others in saying that he passed on too soon and will be grievously missed.