Sunday, January 20, 2013

Back in Black

Why all this black? What's with the dark tone of this blog? Have you gone insane, mister?

Partly insane, but who isn't that wants to be a writer? Really. That comes with the territory.

Did you know that 1 billion people are on Facebook during the day. 400 million people are doing things like twitter, blogging, and all those other sites all over the Internet and there are some bazillion websites coming and going on a daily basis. It's pure insanity. There is so much white noise out there that you wonder who is able to listen to anything with all that going on. I've managed to carve out a tiny, and by tiny I mean super tiny little space, in all that noise. It's really a whisper of a whisper of a whisper... you get the point.

The dark bleak coloring of the blog goes along with the new year. This 2013 year is about slimming down, trimming the fat, cleaning house, and streamlining all the sites that I haunt. Black is a slimming color after all. In the last hour I have decided to trim the fat - remove myself from a few unnecessary social sites that at one time I thought I needed to be on. But it really only caused me anxiety to try and keep up with all of them. Who has time for anxiety or the sites that cause the anxiety!? I have things to write and a family to enjoy and a job to work. I'm exhausted talking about it.

With that said, the next month will be a turning point for me and possibly for this blog. There are so many, and I mean tons, of kid lit blogs out there. Many of them talking about the same thing and so many of them coming and going on a daily basis. I've really had to think about what I can continue to offer to the blogging world and what do I really want to write about, pour my soul into and if I want to do it on several sites or narrow it all down to one. I have a personal writer site and that seems to be where my focus will drift.

The good news is this all comes from having writing assignments (like a column in one of my favorite magazines of all time) and deadlines that I have to meet which has taken me away from this blog. I've had an incredible run here and I would like to continue, but it really boils down to necessity. What is necessary? What can I bring to the white noise?I know they say you need to have an online presence to really make editors stand up and take notice. But I truly believe after doing this for some time. The one thing that any and all editors will notice above anything... is your WRITING. Can you write a great story. Can you transport us away. If you can do that. None of this other stuff really matters. People will remember your books more than they will ever remember your social marketing of them.

Until then. Keep reading. Keep writing.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Moment of Silence

For the children and adults in Newport who have lost the most precious gift of all. You will be missed more than words can ever express. You will not be forgotten. We bow our heads in silence for you and your loved ones.

R.I.P angels.

Monday, November 19, 2012

12 Days to Go (Indie Go Go) for the Juniper!

My fiends over at Underneath the Juniper Tree are in the final 12 days of raising the funds for the amazing anthology and they are roughly $1k shy of the goal. With our help we can topple them over the top and get one of the best and darkest children's literature magazines best of the best in a wonderful fancy book to proudly display on the bookshelf AND to read to the little ankle bitters nightly before sleepy time. I know I can't wait to cuddle up with my little ones and read them this tasty dark morsels.

So stop goofing around and get over to the campaign and show your support. OR we will come haunt you through the night until you realize what a mistake you made by not getting involved. Capice?!

Go here:

Besides being a contributor to something amazing, you could get something even more amazing like this -

Art by Kenneth Lamug

You better hurry though... last I checked there were only two of these fantastic art pieces left! Because one of them is mine - muahahahahahahahaha!!

Monday, October 29, 2012

13 Days of Halloween (a bit late)

Yeah yeah yeah, I'm wicked late on this posting with two days to go until our favorite holiday of the year. There was a writing deadline that had to be met and so that consumed every free minute of the day. However, our friend Billy Burgess over at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer has been dishing out the literary treats in preparation for The Ween. Do yourself a favor and creep on over there to check out all the awesome posts.

Thank you Billy and all the fellow contributors for all their hard work and great posts. Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 1, 2012

My Favorite (blank) - Patrick Carmen

A recent haunter of the Asylum and writer of dark and fantastic literature for young readers (and let's be honest - we all read it too), Patrick Carmen dropped in like a spider snatching a fly with his quick and powerful blurb. 

Patrick - I'm currently reading The Family Fang. Brilliant.

Well, that's about all you need at the end of a sentence to make you want to read. Am I right?

Here is the synopsis of the book: Mr. and Mrs. Fang called it art. Their children called it mischief.
Performance artists Caleb and Camille Fang dedicated themselves to making great art. But when an artist’s work lies in subverting normality, it can be difficult to raise well-adjusted children. Just ask Buster and Annie Fang. For as long as they can remember, they starred (unwillingly) in their parents’ madcap pieces. But now that they are grown up, the chaos of their childhood has made it difficult to cope with life outside the fishbowl of their parents’ strange world.

When the lives they’ve built come crashing down, brother and sister have nowhere to go but home, where they discover that Caleb and Camille are planning one last performance–their magnum opus–whether the kids agree to participate or not. Soon, ambition breeds conflict, bringing the Fangs to face the difficult decision about what’s ultimately more important: their family or their art

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

My Favorite (blank) - Bree Ogden

Continuing with our My Favorite (blank) series is my friend, uber agent, and fellow monster lover, ZomBree Ogden. If you haven't seen Bree and I rambling about our love for all things whimsically dark then, well, you haven't seen it. But, it is rather entertaining if I do say so myself. Bree has become extremely busy these days being a juggernaut of awesome and I managed to step into the matrix and catch her to tell us what she is digging on.

Bree - Currently my favorite young adult novel is THE HALLOWED ONES by Laura Bickle. I've been craving this exact mash-up of apocalyptic contemporary realism in a young adult novel for quite some time. Bickle so effortlessly adds a bit of terrifying fantasy to a very sobering reality--an Amish community in which the main character is about to experience Rumspringa. Before our MC can take her temporary leave of her strict religious upbringing, something terrible happens in the "outside world". 

I'm so absolutely thrilled by this novel for a few reasons. One, Bickle has taken the apocalyptic trend, so prevalent in YA novels, and thrown it on its side by combining it with an extremely realistic look at a society that the average reader has very little experience with. I also think that in our current political and social climate, it is important for our youth to have a respectful understanding of all religions and ways of life. 

This novel is a fascinating take on a young girl trying to carve out a place for her true nature in a community of convention. I look forward to seeing more YA novels that successfully tackle the info-tainment genre. 

THE HALLOWED ONES was released yesterday, September 25th, 2012 from Graphia, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Check it out! 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

My Favorite (blank) - Adam Jay Epstein

We love The Familiars co-authors here at the Asylum. Today, the other half of the writing team, Adam Jay Epstein, stops by to let us into his brain and see what My Favorite (blank) is.

Adam - Currently, My favorite children's picture book is We Are in a Book! by Mo Willems. My wife recently purchased the book for my youngest daughter in the hopes that it would amuse her. But I think I love it even more than she does. It captures the same "speak to the reader" fun that There's a Monster at the End of This Book does. (A favorite of mine when I was a kid... Grover and a surprise ending.. What could be better.)

Elephant and Piggie have a giant realization that they are in a book.... and can control the reader by making him/her say whatever they put in the word bubbles. It is "Bananas!" Plus, it is hard not read over again. The characters beg you to do so.

Adam, we feel the same way about Mo Willems books. I think most of the adults reading them to the kids find the humor very entertaining. I've read many of them over and over without my daughter around. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Great reads for BOYS!

Looking for books for your boys, reluctant readers or students who want to read something with a monster, alien, or wacky action vibe? Why not try one or all of these suggestions currently sitting on the shelves!

No doubt about it, little brothers can be monsters. When sixth grader Jake Doolittle finds a baby on the doorstep and his mother decides to keep it, those words are more than just an expression. Instead, they perfectly describe the way his new little brother, LD, sprouts pointy ears, thick fur, and fangs in moonlight.
Not only is LD a monster. . . . other monsters have plans for him. But together with his friend "Weird Lily" Carker, Jake isn't about to let anything happen to the baby. The little guy is still his brother, even if it turns out that LD may be the key to saving the world—or destroying it.
Soon Jake and Lily are on a perilous quest through Always October, a world populated with monsters ranging from the venomous to the ridiculous. Master of comic suspense Bruce Coville presents a tale of ominous dangers and hairbreadth escapes, of the conflict between forces of dark and light, and of the lengths to which one boy will go to save his brother—monster or not.
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/28/2012
  • Pages: 384
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years

  • The Valorim are about to fall to a dark lord when they send a necklace containing their planet across the cosmos, hurtling past a trillion stars . . . all the way into the lunchbox of Tommy Pepper, sixth grader, of Plymouth, Mass.
    Mourning his late mother, Tommy doesn't notice much about the chain he found, but soon he is drawing the twin suns and humming the music of a hanorah. As Tommy absorbs the art and language of the Valorim, their enemies target him. When a creature begins ransacking Plymouth in search of the chain, Tommy learns he must protect his family from villains far worse than he's ever imagined.
    • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
    • Publication date: 9/4/2012
    • Pages: 304
    • Sales rank: 138,057
    • Age range: 10 - 14 Years

  • Twins Hunter and Zack have a small problem to solve: they must save their town from a diabolical dentist who is planning to blow it to smithereens. But first they have to hold a funeral for an incriminating report card before it breaks their mother's heart, hide a cello that been demolished, and keep their father from finding out what they did to his laptop. None of this is going to be easy with their busy-body older sister Linny watching their every move, older brother William just waiting to get them in trouble, five-year-old brother Stetson tailing them, and baby Mary banging her spoon like a maniac so no one can think. Before the book is over, a vintage airplane, a hot air balloon, and a borrowed fire engine will all play parts in the unfolding mystery. This laugh-out-loud novel is filled with wonderfully whimsical characters, momentous amounts of mischief, and plenty of heart.

    • Publisher: Holiday House, Inc.
    • Publication date: 8/28/2012
    • Pages: 128
    • Age range: 8 - 12 Years