Halloween Reads


I was a very/shockingly productive reader in September and have had a generally good year in terms of tackling my TBR list. That said, I haven’t be reading much in October. The only book I’m currently reading is Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens,  as part of my YA Mental Health Book project. However, that has been slow because I’m reading less than one story a day. The short stories are great, but I’ve been focused on other things.

When October started, I hyperfocused on my writing to 1) get prep for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and 2) get ready for Author Mentor Match (AMM), a program that matches people who are ready to query agents with writers who already have agents and are going through the publication process or already published. I felt like AMM was exactly what I needed to finally start doing something about one finished story I’ve been sitting on for a while, but since I found out about it somewhat late in the game (the applications open October 15), I’ve been rushing to get the query letter, synopsis, first few chapters, and overall manuscript ready. Because even if I don’t get selected for AMM, I want to use this momentum to keep querying.

Bottom Line: I’ve been writing and editing a lot, which is great, I just haven’t been reading.

Solution: A list of books to read in celebration of Halloween. These aren’t necessary super-Halloween-y books. They’re just books that I have, want to read, and have a creepy or suspenseful air to them, and it may be easier to make time for them if they’re tied into the season. I definitely won’t have them all finished by Halloween, but hopefully I’ve  read at least a few  so let’s see what happens. And the books are… *drum roll*

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The Westing Game isn’t a creepy book (to my knowledge). I just need to read it and return it to my sister, who keeps recommending it to me. It should be a quick and easy victory to start off this project.

Contagion and Sadie were Scribbler books that I’ve already posted about. I haven’t started them, but they both seem perfect for the Halloween season. I didn’t start Sadie right away because a podcast features heavily in the narration and I therefore wanted to listen to it on audiobook.

The Lies We Told is my Book of the Month book for October. I almost selected a sci-fi book that was more up my alley (not that this one isn’t in my alley). Until I realized that elements of the plot–the family deception–are similar to elements and themes that I’m including in my largest writing project (the first part of which I’m submitting to AMM). I want to read this specifically to help inform and strengthen my own writing about deception and family intrigue.

The Hazel Wood was an impulse buy for me. I was going to get it as a library book, but the cover was too beautiful. And since it’s about dark fairy tales and a creep/supernatural woods, it fits as a Halloween read.

Anyway, hopefully by writing this post, I’m burning into my mind that I will finish the books before moving on to anything else. I don’t anticipate I’ll finish them all by October 31, but I should be done with them in November for sure.

Picture #2: Romantic Scene


With this picture, I think I’ll write a scene with a romantic atmosphere rather than an actual romance. Which makes me realize I don’t think I’ve ever written a romantic atmosphere, alone, before, but that’s why I’m trying all these different scenes with the same photo. Practice, practice, practice.

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The snow fell in steady sheets and covered the earthen path like a lace blanket. The branches of the wintering woods reached into the air, their bark lined with icicles that sparkled in the morning light. They had been frozen in time as if reaching out to embrace the warm love of the rising sun. Some shunned the woods in winter, but it was then that Mother Nature’s quiet tranquility was strongest. The air around seemed to hum with dormant life. With each step deeper into the wood, winter lace crunching rhythmically underfoot, both man and dog felt relaxed. Unburdened. A restful winter under icy protection would one day melt away and unleash vibrant new life.

Picture #2: Horror Scene


This might be slightly inspired by the movie A Quiet Place. Also, it occurs to me I rarely read and almost never write horror. The last time I had to was for a writing assignment in high school and I’m pretty sure I turned into a dark comedy instead.

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With each crunch of his boots against the snow, Ben’s muscles tightened. He crept along with his eyes darting between the lifeless trees along the trail. Sammy waited up ahead with every hair  on end. The pounding beat of Ben’s heart quickened as he watched Sammy’s muzzle curl. Her growl was low, a simple warning, but he knew it would grow louder. He froze where he stood and tried to slow his breathing as he listened to the woods. The branches creaked in the icy January wind, but Ben could not hear anything else. Yet. Sammy’s growl rose. The muscle’s in Ben’s legs, his stomach, his throat clenched. He wanted to run to Sammy and throw his fridged hands around her, shut her up, but she was too far away and his run would only attract attention. So he remained frozen in place. Sammy had always been a good dog and had outlasted every other animal, nearly every human, but as an uneven beat and strange, otherworldly clicking grew nearer, Ben knew her time had come. He couldn’t bring himself to look away as the unearthly figure launched out of the trees with talons blazing. Sammy snarled and screeched as the creature flung her from side to side before dragging her limp body back into the woods. Ben stayed where he was, his wide eyes fixed on the red staining the snow ahead. His face trembled as a horrified shriek clawed for freedom at the base of his throat.

Picture #2: Tragic Scene


I still cannot spell tragic without pausing to think about it…

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On most days, a walk through the forest with the blanket of snow crunching gently under foot couldn’t fail to calm Ben’s mind, but this was not most days. At least, it wasn’t like  most of the days Ben had lived so far, but the empty feeling in the depths of his stomach told him that it would be like most days from here on out. Empty feeling was probably the wrong word for it. He felt like his insides had been replaced with a quicksand pit that was swallowing up the rest of him: body, mind and soul. Even the spirited bark of Sammy, his loyal hound dog, couldn’t cheer him up. Ben marched on, acutely aware that this was in no way like most days, or like most walks.

For most walks, Ben was joined by his father, trudging through the snow beside him. Dad would point out how a keen eyed observer could distinguish trees not just but their leaves, but by their barks. He could identify the chirp of any bird brave enough to be out in the cold. He would holler and cheer Sammy on down the path, only to run frantically after he when he realized she’d left the path for the wild woods. But Ben and his father would never walk in the snow again.

Picture #2: Comedic Scene


For this picture, I’m going with a light-hearted scene more than a comedic scene. Also, I originally found this picture at the blog of Adrianne James.

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Sammy love two things in life: her human and walks. And food, three things. Ooh, and squeaky toys, so four things. But no more! And when it came to walks with her human, why there wasn’t anything that Sammy loved more than that. Even the chill of the freshly fallen snow couldn’t dampen her happiness as she took off down the wooded path. Her human brought up the rear. When she reached the bend in the path, Sammy turned to see what was taking her human so long. She knew that humans couldn’t move as fast as dogs, not with those two skinny legs and all that weight from the extra skin they always put on. But Sammy didn’t mind waiting for her human to catch up. Sammy would go anywhere and do anything, as long as she had her human–dog’s best friend!–right there by her side.

Picture Prompt 1: Five Senses


So, of course, as soon as I decide to start posting here on a daily basis, I sprain my figure and can’t type without pain for several days. My book reading posts I wrote and scheduled last weekend, so they weren’t impacted but I haven’t been able to do my daily creative writing posts for a few days. According to my spiffy schedule, I missed writing the horror and romance scene for the picture below. Maybe I’ll go back and write those too before Sunday’s editing day since I have ideas for both.

The idea for the Five Sense writing is that I’ll write a paragraph-ish and try to bring in as many sense-oriented details (i.e., sights, smells, sounds, tastes, feels) as I can without overloading the writing.

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Leonard wasn’t sure if the constant, deafening drone behind him was the sound of the waves crashing against the desert’s edge or Fluffy heavy breathing. For that matter, was the damp against the back of his neck salty ocean spray, the droolings of a hungry dog, or the frantic perspiration of his potential human dinner? Leonard didn’t want to stop his breakneck pace long enough to figure out either of these tantalizing mysteries. As he pounded across the desert, his legs and lungs burned with exertion. Every leap across the sun-scorch sand seemed to get him no where as earth shifted under his feet.  Bile clawed  up his throat, his tongue curling at its acidic sting. He want to shout in pain, scream for help, curse the universe for putting him in this horrible death race, but he didn’t stop. To stop would be to accept his horrible, gastronomic fate. To stop–

Leonard’s foot dug deep and caught on a half-buried rock. He pitched forward and tumbled down. Burning sand cut at his palms and flew into his eyes. His erratic heartbeat skipped as he felt the rumble of Fluffy sliding to a stop around him. A wave of white hot sand cast a shadow over Leonard as it arched over him. His limbs tingled and went numb when he realized the drift would probably cook him before Fluffy caught him in his slobbery maul. Leonard closed his eyes before the waved crashed down, hoping that he would at least make a tasty meal.

 

 

Picture #1: Comedic Scene


This is my first creative writing post in 3 years, so let’s jump “write” into it! (Hahaha, so punny).

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For his entire life, all Leonard wanted was a dog. A nice, friendly dog who could greet him with overly-excited slobbers when he arrived home from a grueling work day. A sporty dog that would accompany him on hikes and fetch a million and one tennis balls. And Leonard got that. Oh, how he got that. When he went to the animal rescue, he promised he’d take home whichever dog “clicked” with him. He didn’t anticipate the “clicker” would be Fluffy, a Clifford-sized energetic monstrosity.  Leonard raced home, trying to get back to his one-story rambler in time to giant-doggie-proof it. Fluffy stayed glued to his new master’s heels. Forget being home for Leonard after the work day, Fluffy could probably sit in the backyard, stretch his oversized neck and spy on Leonard’s cubicle through the sixth floor window that was over a mile away. As Leonard gasped for breath, inwardly he smiled at the thought that he’d never be lonely again… and cringed when he realized he needed bigger dog poop bags.