Feature Fun Friday - Shannon Hale Scare-A-Thon

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): The Gravel Road by James Newton Howard [The Village soundtrack].

I promised you more author scares and I am here to deliver. Three weeks ago, we saw what lurked in their own personal Heart of Darkness as John Green and Scott Westerfeld faced their greatest fears in Lauren Myracle's Scara-a-thon challenge. Now, it's Shannon Hale's turn. Out of all the Feature Fun Fridays I have shown, this is the scariest, and thus the reason I waited until All Hallows Eve eve to show it to you. Appropriately titled "The Dean Witch Project," we follow Shannon through a darkened house, where her husband is hiding, waiting to terrify her. Welcome to Halloween. Have fun this weekend, and be safe. Go have a blast. Happy Halloween everyone.

And as promised, here is a link to what all the other authors did to participate in last year's Scare-a-thon. Enjoy.

I really AM famous now :)

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): I Thought He Was A Goth by Vixy and the Broken Chimneys (Vixy Dockrey).

I have entered the high and literary world of all you high profile book bloggers, all you supercool types. Yep, as of yesterday I was offered my first book to be sent to me for review. I was tickled pink and humbled all at once. Such a pleasant email and so professional, I can't wait to read it. If it meets all of my criteria, you very well may see it featured here some time in the future.

But if that didn't propel me into the ranks of celebrity status, this certainly will. I have been contacted by none other than the daughter of the former finance minister of Sierra Leone. How incredible is that? She says she's in a dire situation and that if I just contact her, we can access her $18 million trust fund in Ghana and we can spilt it 70/30. I can retire, never write another book ever again.

Do you think I should send her my social security number to help speed the process along? I really do want that $5.4 million (or do I get the $12.6?). ;)

You know, somehow I really feel more accomplished in life now that I've officially received one of these emails. It was never on my list of things to do before I die, but I feel it should have been. I've crossed it off the list in any case (I've also run down the wrong way of an escalator, and that was on my list. And I did it in all seriousness too - it's a lot harder than you think). I don't think a former dignitary of a foreign country would be using a hotmail address for business transactions, or even a yahoo one (which is where it was sent from). Silly silly rabbit. But yes, don't you think this make it so I am officially "famous" now? :) Now, to just take over the moon...

Review - Song of the Sparrow by Lisa Ann Sandell

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): On My Own by Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil [Les Miserables soundtrack].

Based off a famous poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson, this is the story of the Lady of Shallot, a minor character in the King Arthur legends that takes center stage in Lisa Ann Sandell's Song of the Sparrow (there is a beautiful rendition done by Loreena McKennit, which you can listen to here).

Song of the Sparrow by Lisa Ann Sandell
Current Amazon Rank: # 130,529
Published: May 2007
Pages: 394

The First Line:

I am both.
But I have brothers,
nay, hudreds
of brothers.

My Take: Elaine is the only girl in a camp of hundreds of men, but she likes it this way. She thinks of them as her brothers and she mends their clothes and finds herbs to heal them when they come back from fighting. She waits for them, but she is not weak by any means. This kind of accuracy is one of the reasons this story really stood out for me. She was strong but not in sword-wielding-kick-butt sort of way. This girl has courage. But everything changes when a new girl comes into the camp, betrothed to Arthur. She thinks she has found a friend. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

This story is something very familiar, yet different. Having loved interpretations of Arthurian legends, I have lurked among such works as The Mists of Avalon, T.A Barron's Merlin series, The Once and Future King, the list goes on. I especially like the re-imaginings with the women being portrayed stronger than their original source material (let's just admit it. They got the short end of the stick in these legends). Take for example the original tale of Elaine (our intrepid heroine). She falls in love with Lancelot on first sight, and then dies of a broken heart when he rejects her. Goodness, talk about tough love. Morgan Le Fay (Arthur's half sister) is as twisted and evil as they come, and Gwenyvere is blamed in helping bring down all of Camelot. Let's not forget Nimue who is responsible for seducing Merlin, stealing his secrets, and sealing him in a tree forever. Yeah... not a lot of love for the females here.

But luckily, Lisa Ann Sandell does a wonderful job of helping rectify this unfortunate set of historical perceptions. She makes flesh and blood people out of all the characters, and not just the women. It is fresh and vivid, and surprisingly evocative in the free verse poetry in which she writes. I am not always fond of "poetry novels" but this one really is an exception. It feels like poetry (and not just randomly set words), but is as easy to read as prose. My biggest complaint is that we did not get to see enough of her two blood brothers, and that was a dynamic I felt really should have been there. However, for having such a huge cast of characters, she did remarkably well. All of these "legendary" characters felt real to me, and I think that is one of the most important things I can say about this book. I almost wish there was a sequel (Camelot was just getting started at the end for goodness sake!) but it feels complete as it is, which leaves me a little sad. And you know that is always a good sign that the book was well worth reading.

The Final Word: Beautifully written, an interesting and new take on a minor character of the Arthurian legends, she breathes new life into these "larger than life" characters.

The ABCs of Me

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Jack's Obsession by Danny Elfman [The Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack].

Because I like being weird, I'm doing this a bit different. I'm going to answer each question with the number of words that letter corresponds to (A=1, B=2, Z=26). Make sense? Why am I doing this? Because, as stated before, I'm weird. And I thought it would be fun.

The ABCs of Me.

Available or in a relationship? Yes. :)

Best friend? My family.

Cake or Pie? Depends on day.

Drink of choice? I adore chocolate milk.

Essential item for everyday use? My senses - for the world.

Favorite color? Easy peesy. It rhymes with Urple.

Google? Seven words for Google? I love it.

Hometown? Wherever I am, that becomes home to me.

Indulgences? Too many. Books (always), Simply Orange juice, life itself, everything.

January or February? Neither really. But hot chocolate helps make them really wonderful.

Kids and their names? Ha. I think this is for old people (older than me).

Life is incomplete without? Living. I wish I could emphasize that. Life makes everything truly possible.

Marriage date? Yep. Told ya. For older people than me. A solstice seems nice though.

Number of siblings? Sorry confidential, for the time being at least. But I've all sisters. Love them.

Oranges or apples? Sounds like a math question. :) Brings back memories of elementary school. Big time smile here.

Phobias and fears? No true phobia (those are debilitating), but I hate needles. I have blog posts for proof. :)

Quote for the day? "A ship is safe in harbor, but that's not what ships are made for." Love that one.

Reason to smile? Because I'm alive. Do you really need a greater reason than that? Everything truly is such a gift.

Season? Hmm, several ways to answer this question. What if I add an "ing?" :) I do love me my rosemary.

If you were to do your own TV show , what would it be? A t.v show I would make? Something with sci-fi. And time travel. And ninjas. Because they're all just so terribly cool. :)

Unknown fact about me? Superheroes are supposed to keep secrets. ;) Let's see... I was shot in the head with an arrow once. Bump's still there.

Vegetable you hate? That's a hard one. I generally love vegetables. Except from cans. Does that count? Canned corn, canned peas - blech (green beans okay).

Worst habit? I don't know... I stick my tongue out playfully too much. I'm really trying to change that habit. I don't like doing it.

X-rays you've had? Just for teeth and braces. I'm kinda boring that way. Dang, can't really fill in all these extra words. Five more to go. Done. :)

Your favorite food? You really don't know me if you ask that. Love food. Oh! favorite unknown food? Mangosteen. I would die to taste another one of those.

Zodiac? Really? The only one that needs a one-worded answer and I get 26? Yeesh. How about I tell you I like the stars they represent more. :)

Okay, for the next challenge, I tag Steph Bowe from Hey! Teenager of the Year. She's fifteen and about to be published. I really want to know all about her. Have at it Steph. Let loose. :D

Linky Love - a diverse group

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): What's This by Danny Elfman [The Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack] (it is appropriate since it is snowing outside).

Wow, can't seem to think straight, I think it is all this snow I see all around me. I almost made it to Halloween without seeing a flake (actually, I lie. There was a snow storm at the beginning of October. And winter can last till May. And they call us a desert. Ha).

Lots of lovely links for your enjoyment, so away we go!

First, we must thank the lovely people at Tor for putting up a tutorial on how to customize your own steampunk costume. Be you poor, lazy, or crafty, it's all there.

A new website contacted me directly, asking to help spread the word, which I am happy to do. They are called Lit Drift, and they seem quite promising. They have a diverse range of articles, tabs on music, television, poetry, video games, all relating back to writing and stories. Very cool beans. And they accept reader submissions (be it drawings, ideas, napkin drawings, well, you get the idea). But be aware, not all of it is G-rated content (I try the best I can to keep tabs on that for my blog).

Speaking of new things, The Truth About Books is a new YA blog starting that also asked for my help, and I said I'd be happy to. There's not much there yet, but it does look very hopeful. I'll be keeping an eye on it. I can't wait to see how it develops.

I just found an great new blog, The Magic of Ink, but the best gem there? They keep a listing of all YA books being turned into movies. How cool is that?

Onto the contests!!! (There sure are a lot of great ones going on)

First and foremost for my fellow aspiring writer readers (does that make any sense?), there is a contest for a 30 page critique of your current manuscript. It must be complete, but all you have to do is paste your query letter into the comments by Oct 31st. Go here for all the rules (I've heard writers are getting success even from other agents reading the submissions). It is a fantastic opportunity for all of my fellow writers out there.

Again, I've mentioned Shannon of Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe recently for her jaw-dropping contest for a signed copy of Frank Beddor's ArchEnemy, but she is at it again. This time she will let you choose from her remaining signed hardcovers. It's incredible. I wish you all the best of luck. I really want to win that signed copy of Blackbringer. Ends Oct 31st (I'm sensing a pattern here with these dates).

Oh, and author Lisa Yee is hosting her 42nd Annual Bodacious Book Contest! Can you sum up a book's entire story in six words or less? That's what it is all about. Tis sweet stuff. An example for Twilight? "All because she smelled really good." :)

Over at Ooh Books! she has reviewed a book that she has called "a perfect book, or at least as perfect as a human creation can be." Impressed? I was. Click here to see what book it is.

I think that's it. I'm sure I've forgotten something though...

Monday's Muse, 2nd edition.

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): What Have I Done by Anna Ternheim.

This was originally an idea from Au Courant started in March, an idea she has graciously let me run with.

The idea is to introduce you to unknown, forgotten, or overlooked fiction that has been lost from regular radar. I am WriterGirl. I am in the business of saving lives, one book at a time.

What I do is go to amazon, narrow it down to a YA field and type in a random word, any word that comes to mind. I then take a sampling of some I have never heard of before, or only vaguely heard of (and hopefully you as well). No infringement is intended for any description I take for the books. It's purely for promotional reasons. I will try and cover as many genres as possible that are fitting for the random word. Simple but it really uncovers some incredible gems. I will be doing this every other Monday. If there are any words you want to prompt me with, go ahead and fire away.

Today's random word:

I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder.

Girl meets boy.

Girl loses boy.

Girl gets boy back...

...sort of.

Ava can't see him or touch him, unless she's dreaming. She can't hear hisvoice, except for the faint whispers in her mind. Most would think she'scrazy, but she knows he's here.

Jackson. The boy Ava thought she'd spend the rest of her life with. He's back from the dead, as proof that love truly knows no bounds. But can she have a ghost for a boyfriend for the rest of her life?

The Widow's Broom by Chris Van Allsburg

"Witches' brooms don't last forever. They grow old, and even the best of them, one day, lose the power of flight.... On very rare occasions, however, a broom can lose its power without warning, and fall, with its passenger, to the earth below ... which is just what happened one cold autumn night many years ago." So begins The Widow's Broom, the gentle, strangely captivating book by Chris Van Allsburg, who received Caldecott medals for Jumanji and The Polar Express.

The story gets under way when the lonely widow Minna Shaw finds a wounded, sky-fallen witch in her vegetable garden. The witch disappears before dawn, but leaves her old, presumably defunct broom behind. Minna begins to use it around the house and finds that "it was no better or worse than brooms she'd used before." However, one morning, Minna sees the broom sweeping by itself! Opportunistically, she trains it to chop wood and fetch water.

When the neighbors find out about this "wicked, wicked thing" (posing as an innocent, hardworking broom), they accost the widow and demand that the broom be burned. Are they successful in separating the lonely widow and her diligently sweeping friend? This is a wonderfully suspenseful book to read aloud and young listeners will earnestly hope for the broom's survival. Still, older, wiser readers, ages 8 and older, will be swept up in the story, too.

A Troubled Peace by L. M. Elliott

March 1945

World War II may be ending, but for nineteen-year-old pilot Henry Forester the conflict still rages. Shot down behind enemy lines in France, Henry endured a dangerous trek to freedom, relying on the heroism of civilians and Resistance fighters to stay alive. But back home in Virginia, Henry is still reliving air battles with Hitler's Luftwaffe and his torture by the Gestapo. Mostly, Henry can't stop worrying about the safety of those who helped him escape—especially one French boy, Pierre, who, because of Henry, may have lost everything.

When Henry returns to France to find Pierre, he is stunned by the brutal after-math of combat: starvation, cities shattered by Allied bombing, and the shocking return of concentration camp survivors. Amid the rubble of war, Henry must begin a daring search for a lost boy—plus a fight to regain his own internal peace and the trust of the girl he loves.

L. M. Elliott's sequel to Under a War-Torn Sky is an astonishing account of surviving the fallout from war.

Feature Fun Friday - The Raven read by James Earl Jones

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): This is Halloween by Danny Elfman [The Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack].

Ooooh, this is cool. Nothing says Halloween more than Edgar Allen Poe and "The Raven" is classic. But combine the literary heights of "The Raven" with the awesomeness of James Earl Jones? It becomes something like pie - the perfect combination of flaky and tender and abounding in flavor bursting in your mouth. In a word - genius. You can just close your eyes and imagine Darth Vader or Mufasa is reading this and it enters a whole new realm of cool. No actual video this time, but that's okay. Just listen while surfing other places. Happy Halloween everyone. Only one more week to go, and next week's is going to be really fun (and scary). :) Have fun everyone and make this weekend a great one.

The Katniss costume comes together

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Harbor by Vienna Teng.

It's here! All the pieces are here! With the arrival of the my hooded, thigh-length black coat, all the puzzle pieces for my Katniss Everdeen costume are finally complete. Confetti and those blowy horns.

A glimpse of it, sans me. :)

Tawny pants - check. I chose corduroy because I wanted a really tough fabric that had an interesting texture. It was actually harder than I expected to find a true "tawny" color, but I did eventually. Another reasons slacks were just flat out.

Black, hooded coat that comes to thighs - check. It's thin, but also made of a sturdy fabric, something you might logically find/use in the wilderness. I wanted to make an outfit that could realistically use if this were real, and not something that was just a cheap imitation. Plus, I got a cool coat out of it I can use come winter. :)

Light green shirt - check.

Leather boots, rubber sole - check. I'm very proud of this one. Not only is it impossible to find boots without heels nowadays, I really like the twist I found. Suzanne Collins never said that the boots were lined with fur, but she never said they weren't either. It was a logical decision. If out in the wilderness, I can easily see these being a part of the issue. And I love the leather criss crosses. So this was a bit of creative license on my part, but I think it is more real than say just a plain leather boot. And it looks really cool.

But even cooler than all this is that I've found a post on how to go about creating and making your own book character costumes. And it is from none other than YAthenaeum, one of the blogs I nominated for an award just yesterday. It's fate, it's destiny. It just plain rocks. Their tutorial is so much better than my own creative attempt a week or so back. They made a Bertie costume from Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev and it is incredible. Shameless plugging and squeeing love is abounding.

But possibly even cooler than all this combined? Purple potatoes. Yep, not kidding. Look at these babies, straight from my garden!

If America doesn't have a national vegetable, I vote it be the purple potato. Don't forget to ask any question you want to know about me. I think I've got five left. I swear on my life to answer completely and honestly. Hero's oath of honor.

Awards awards all around and not a lick of time to think

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Lullaby For A Stormy Night by Vienna Teng.

I can't tell you how much I love seeing other bloggers win awards. I love seeing them recognized and new faces being brought to them because of those awards. A little bubble of happiness you might say. I've had a little niggling of wanting I will admit it (especially for the zombie chicken award. Have you seen how cool that thing looks?) but I didn't mind, not really. Now, you guys have blown me out of the water, not just by one award, but three.

I got all three of them so fast I barely had time to think. It was incredible. But props must be given to Charlotte over at Book on the Hill. She gave me my first award ever and for that, there will always be a special place in my heart. If you haven't checked her blog out, you really should. Her contributions to The Neverending Shelf's Alice in Wonderland Week is incredible. She paired up passages in the book with recipes that compliment them. My mouth watered every day for a week. Her award she gave me was the Superior Scribbler award, apparently fairly prestigious too (at least, there are a lot of rules you have to follow. And rules=prestigious right?) :)

• Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends.
• Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author and the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award.
• Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to this post which explains The Award.
• Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we’ll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor !
• Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

The 5 most deserving was brutal. Do you know how many blogs I follow? The pressure was almost too much, even for me as a superhero. But choose I did, and now present them happily:

Writing it Out
My Favorite Author
Tales of Whimsy
Bookie Woogie

My second major award (please note early Christmas reference to A Christmas Story) is The Heartfelt Award from Book on the Hill with the very specific criteria of giving you warm fuzzies when you read them. I could pick up to nine. And here they are (I do hope you visit all of these. All - above and below - are incredible blogs well worth reading):

~5 Great Books (each post she names 5 great picture books according to subject. It is the coolest thing)
~Bookie Woogie (read read, follow this blog. It's a dad who reads a book a week to his three kids, tapes them, and transcribes what they say. It is priceless beyond words. They also draw pictures of the books they read).
~Chronicles of an Infant Bibliophile (again, priceless. Reads all sorts of books to her child and reports on how interested he is. He's a reviewer and not even two yet!) :)
~YAthenaeum (a group of college students in Florida which guts and heart. I love their reviews and recaps at the end of the week)
~GreenBeanTeenQueen (honest, sincerely and genuine, I love this librarian and her blog).
~Fabulous Reads (a pair of friends who pick an author and review every book by that them, quite ambitious. And their contests are incredible. Signed Percy Jackson book anyone?).
~Miss Danaidae (friend and follower, she has some great stuff on her blog. In an BA program AND loves YA? That's a tough combination sometimes).

Rules : Put the logo on your blog/post. Nominate up to to 9 blogs which make you feel comfy or warm inside. Be sure to link your nominees within your post. Let them know that they have been nominated by commenting on their blog. Remember to link to the person from whom you received your award.

Okay, not quite nine, but I hold the right to nominate my last two at a later time. :)

The final award (because all good things come in threes, right? Just check you fairy tales) is The Kreativ Award from Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe. I've seen this one around, so I know it's pretty famous, and I'm honored. And I'm also pretty positive that the people I'm about to nominate have already received this half a dozen times or more. There is a reason they are some of the big whigs in Book Bloggy-dom. I happily give this award to:

Presenting Lenore
The Page Flipper
The Story Siren
Reading Keeps You Sane
A Chair, A Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy
Steph Su Reads
Reading in Color

And now: The Rules
1. Copy the Kreativ Blogger picture and post it on your page
2. Thank the person who gave it to you and link back to their blog
3. Write seven things about you that we don't know
4. Choose seven other bloggers that you would like to give the award to
5. Link to the bloggers that you choose
6. Let the winners know that they have the lovely award.

So I'm supposed to say seven things about myself that I haven't told you guys. But I've thought of something far more interesting. *devious eyes* You guys ask the questions. Ask me ANYTHING and I will answer either the first seven, or the seven most interesting. Take a crack at a superhero. What do you want to know? I will tell you honestly and completely. :)

Thank you so much everyone! That was exhausting but awesome. I think you may have just driven me back to my bed...

A WriterGirl's Batcave

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Beautiful Day by U2.

I never honestly thought my pictures were so interesting to you. I guess I was wrong. I swear never to make that mistake again. Well rested in my fortress of solitude (read: my bedroom with me in half a million blankets and a cup of cocoa), I'm ready to tackle the world again. Maybe even make cookies if I'm feeling really daring. :) But for those many many of you who cried "foul" when I did not post pictures, well here it is. You should feel very honored you know - not many people get to see the secret lair of a superhero. ;) My house? Oh nononono, you're not that lucky yet. That requires special access. You know, hand print scanners, secret handshakes, bribery with ice cream, you know the drill.

Now proudly presenting *cue cool music* the BATCAVE (at least my portion).

Look, there's even bicycles that are kinda hanging like bats. I'm set.

The Batcave is operational!

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Frontload by Freezepop.

I officially now have a secret lair for my ubercool assault vehicle (Harutomo) in which I accomplish all of my fantastical adventures (well, at least half of them). The cave (read: garage) was finally swamped, gutted, and all sorts of cleaned on the first semi-warm day in weeks. Now there is space for him in there! ^_^ I am hurting in all sorts of ways I couldn't even dream of, but it's done. I WriterGirl, have tackled the monster and come out conqueror. Take that fire-breathing dragons, you've got nothing on - the garage *ahem* um... batcave.

Now I'm going to go sleep for a millenium. Wake me up if the world is in crisis, okay? :)

Feature Fun Friday - Where The Wild Things Are

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Riu Riu by Anuna.

It's time to let the wild rumpus start! If you haven't been living inside of a toaster, you know that today Where the Wild Things Are comes out. And how could I not give a loving shout out to one of the most famous picture books of all time? And plus, it's just so Halloween-y.

I'm loving this theme of double features. I usually don't find so many good movies that go so well together. Consider it a Halloween treat. The first is a picture reading of the book, complete with cool audio mixing along with music from A Series of Unfortunate Events, what could be better? The second is of course, a trailer for the movie. You can see for yourself if they captured it right. Now shoo, there's a movie to go catch. Have a great weekend everyone. :)

MORE ideas for creating Book/Fictional Characters

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Jump In The Line by Harry Belafonte.

Steampunk versions of Jules Vern's characters and

Alanna from Tamora Pierce's Song of the Lioness' quartet

Guinevere from the legend of King Arthur

Javert from Victor Hugo's Les Miserables

Roland Deschain from Steven King's Dark Tower series.

Sabriel from Garth Nix's Abhorsen Trilogy

Everyone from Little Riding Hood to Sherlock Holmes to Where in the World is Carmen San Diego, and

The infamous Hales from their own Rapunzel's Revenge series

Young Snape from J.K Rowling's Harry Potter series.

Ygritte from Song of Fire and Ice series by George R. R. Martin.

All courtesy given to the incredible people who have made these costumes. If I do not give full credit, please forgive me. Courtesy of: gryphonclaw, Jaize, LostKingdom, Meketaten, Syagria, supergeekgirl, #7 Saville Row, and Maw Books Blog

How to create your own costumes from book characters

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): My Eyes by Neil Patrick Harris and Felicia Day [Dr. Horrible's Sing-A-Long Blog soundtrack].

First of course, you need a character. (If you don't have one in mind, I'm sure your local library is brimming, nay, screaming with books dying to be read. You have one? Excellent).

Next, you have to find out what your character looks like. No easy task at times. I notice a lot of authors like to "leave it up the reader's imagination." Nice for reading, not helpful for costume design. So you take pieces of what you know. Often they will at least give a hair/eye color.

This can often be a liberation for the super-creative, because you then get/have to look into the character's personality themselves and figure out what they might wear. Favorite color is blue? Hangs out with a goth friend - would any of that rub off? Lives in Michigan, so sweater country? How about the dark days - would he/she carry a weapon of some sort? I actually think this avenue would be a lot more fun, but does take a bit more planning then say, a hogwarts uniform.

I was lucky in the fact that Katniss has a ton of specifically described outfits to choose from (that usually isn't a common occurrence in books from what I know). Let's see... there's her hunting/Seam outfit, her arena gear, and all the costumes Cinna made for her (her fire chariot one, her interview outfit, her little girl sundress at the winner's banquet. Are there others?) There is also their green leotard type practice outfits while they are waiting for the Hunger Games to start. And let's not even mention all the ones in Catching Fire. Her wedding dress immediately comes to mind.

I knew all these costumes were mentioned, but I was worried they didn't offer much description. I was especially concerned about her arena outfit, which was what I wanted to dress up in. Luckily, I was wrong. Quite wrong. Her description is surprisingly detailed.

From pages 145 of the US version of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins:

I struggle to keep my breakfast down as I shower and clean my teeth. Cinna does my hair in my simple trademark braid down my back. Then the clothes arrive, the same for every tribute. Cinna has had no say in my outfit, does not even know what will be in the package, but he helps me dress in the undergarments, simple tawny pants, light green blouse, sturdy brown belt, and thin, hooded black jacket that falls to my thighs. "The material in the jacket's designed to reflect body heat. Expect some cool nights," he says.

The boots, worn over skintight socks, are better than I could have hoped for. Soft leather not unlike my ones at home. These have a narrow flexible rubber sole. Good for running.

So really good and bad for me. Good because I know exactly what I need. Bad because there isn't much room for interpretation. I need:

  • A black hooded jacket (thin) that falls to my thighs
  • A light green blouse (there is a lot of shade/design interpretation in that)
  • Tawny pants (skintight? What material? Ah, that is the question)
  • "Sturdy" brown belt. (any embellishments? Would it have a traditional buckle that could be used as a weapon?)
  • Leather boots with rubber tread. Used for running, so no heels.
  • Skintight socks - that you won't see. :)
  • Bow and arrow that she finds in the arena
  • Her mockingjay pin (can't forget that).

The UK cover is actually fairly accurate about the above description, but the funny thing is, I still don't imagine her or her clothes looking anything like that. So there is in fact quite a bit of freedom in this.* :) I can't wait to get started and to show you what I find. :D

*I really want someone to do their own version of Edward/Bella/Jacob/the Cullens not based on the movie, but their own original idea. Harry Potter is included in that too.

Monday's Muse, 1st edition.

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Miss Invisible by Marie Digby.

This was originally an idea from Au Courant started in March, an idea she has graciously let me run with.

The idea is to introduce you to unknown, forgotten, or overlooked fiction that has been lost from regular radar. I am WriterGirl. I am in the business of saving lives, one book at a time.

What (she, and) I do is go to amazon, narrow it down to a YA field and type in a random word, any word that comes to mind. I then take a sampling of some I have never heard of before (and hopefully you as well). No infringement is intended for any description I take for the books. It's purely for promotional reasons. I will try and cover as many genres as possible that are fitting for the random word. Simple but it really uncovers some incredible gems. I will be doing this every other Monday. If there are any words you want to prompt me with, go ahead and fire away.

Today's Random Word:

Hidden Talents by David Lubar.

So I wasn't in cuffs--but it felt like going to prison. It was the sort of place where people kept broken machines, old tires, and other stuff they didn't need. Yeah, this was the place for things nobody wanted. End of the trip. End of the line.
--Martin Anderson, 13

Welcome to Edgeview Alternative School.

For Martin Anderson, it's the end of the road. Literally. He's already been kicked out of every school he's ever attended. Edgeview is the last one that will take him. His teachers have given up on him. So have his parents. Everyone has given up on Martin Anderson. Even Martin.

Why Edgeview?

Martin has a bit of a problem respecting authority. He can't help it. It's like insulting adults is his special talent. And since Edgeview is a warehouse for the system's freaks and rejects, Martin fits right in. That is, until he falls in with a group of five misfits who are so messed up they make the other Edgeview delinquents seem like choirboys. Even the freaks call them freaks.

Unknown to the five, however, each possesses a hidden talent. A remarkable, powerful talent.

Martin discovers the key that will unlock the secret of their hidden talents. And in the process he will battle his own worst enemy: himself.

Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd.

One inch from the wall of brown turf, he froze. 'There's something here. In the earth. A hand.' Digging for peat in the mountain with his Uncle Tally, Fergus finds something that makes his heart stop. Curled up deep in the bog is the body of a child. And it looks like she's been murdered.

As Fergus tries to make sense of the mad world around him - his brother on hunger-strike in prison, his growing feelings for Cora, his mam and da arguing over the Troubles, and him in it up to the neck - a little voice comes to him in his dreams, and the mystery of the bog child unfurls.

Masterpiece by Elise Broach and Kelly Murphy

Marvin lives with his family under the kitchen sink in the Pompadays’ apartment. He is very much a beetle. James Pompaday lives with his family in New York City. He is very much an eleven-year-old boy. After James gets a pen-and-ink set for his birthday, Marvin surprises him by creating an elaborate miniature drawing. James gets all the credit for the picture and before these unlikely friends know it they are caught up in a staged art heist at the Metropolitan Museum of Art that could help recover a famous drawing by Albrecht Dürer. But James can’t go through with the plan without Marvin’s help. And that’s where things get really complicated (and interesting!). This fast-paced mystery will have young readers on the edge of their seats as they root for boy and beetle.

And if you are interested, here are Au Courant's four installments for them. "Key", "Secret", "Bite", and "Picture".

National Poetry Day, my contribution.

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Fur Elise by Beethoven.

Thursday was National Poetry Day in the UK and Kate and Shannon Messenger have already contributed their entries. Kate is on the poppies and why we buy them in remembrance of our fallen soldiers, and Shannon's is a limerick and a very clever one (despite anything she says). She has also written a haiku on heroes, which I think is very beautiful (she is also holding a jaw-dropping contest over at her blog. I would more than highly check it out).

This is my entry. The theme was Heroes and Heroines. Here I present my first public showing of poetry ever -

Heroes and Heroines.
by Heather Zundel

Spartans raiding, death in glory
Beowulf defeats the monster Grendel.
Gilgamesh seeks for immortality
while Theseus battles the Minotaur.
Orpheus sings a song
to bring back the dead
Psyche - three impossible tasks
to appease a goddess
and win her husband back.
A handful of stones against a giant.
These mark a hero's name.

Firefighters into a burning building
never to come out again.
A song, a lullaby in the night
to chase away the nightmares into another day.
Often the hinges of the world
turn less by the clatter of steel
and instead by the rocking of a cradle.
A solider on top of a grenade
watching his fellows.
A friend, a call, a hand
to stop of the pills of death.
These too mark a hero's name.

A thousand faces, a single name
Sacrifice. At cost to themselves
marks their steps to immortality.
And even if the name is given
by only a single heart
that name is well bestowed.

Feature Fun Friday - John Green/Scott Westerfeld Scare-A-Thon

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): The Middle by Jimmy Eat World.

Last year, several big name authors were challenged to a SCARE-A-THON by Lauren Myracle wherein they were supposed to face their deepest fears. Noble of her, right? It's good to face your fears, but oh, they were also to post living proof for all of creation to see. No biggie. You know, authors have some really deep (and sometimes unusual) fears (fear of eggs anyone?*). John Green's? Heights. And it isn't a mild case either. It took $5,000 for charity (offered tortuously lovingly by Scott Westerfeld and Justine Larbalestier) and two separate tries to get him to stand on a table. But Scott didn't escape unscathed either. He was also challenged by the lovely Lauren Myracle. So today is another double feature here on Feature Fun Friday! Enjoy and perhaps think about what you might have to do to face your biggest fears. Would you follow our brave author's leads? Have a great weekend everyone.

*ovaphobia is the fear of eggs.

National Poetry Day - the other side of the pond.

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Heaven by Haley Westenra.

Hey I just found out that it is National Poetry Day in Britain and I love our friends across the pond just as much as the next girl so I'm all for celebrating with them. The theme for this year is Heroes and Heroines. I love it. If I had had more warning, I probably would have written a poem for the occasion. I may still yet (anyone else want to join me?). Since I have already featured Mr. Gaiman for last week's Feature Fun Friday, I think it appropriate to close the week with him as well. He is British after all (wait, please tell me he is *frantically pulls up wikipedia*... oh good, he is).

It's a poem about what to do in a fairy tale, another reason I just had to include it. It's called "Instructions."

Wow. Lots of posts for one day. It's been quite exciting, that's for sure. See you tomorrow everyone.

Guest Post at Alice in Wonderland Week!

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Proof by Rachael Sage.

I just found out that my guest post over at The Neverending Bookshelf has been posted. She's doing a two-week long Alice in Wonderland Week, covering everything under the sun. I am honored and tickled pink she would let mine be the opening piece. Mine is about the different illustrations and artistic treatments seen over the years (there are a lot more than you'd think). There is even one done by Salvador Dali - very cool, and right up his alley, I think. ;) Head over there and check it out. I now have several new favorites. :) Now, just to get my hands on those copies...

Linky Love for you

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Loulan Girl by 12 Girls Band.

Let's get straight down to it.

Moonrat held a contest for a book and movie mash-up contest and the results are awesome.

The New York times tells of a man who, no joke, is going to translate Moby Dick into elborated emoticons, called emoji. Here is a sample of what it will look like.

I'm wondering if it will be any easier to read this way (it really can't get any worse than the original). It is now aptly called Emoji Dick. :)

For the lovers of Joss Whedon, there is news about a mind transplant idea he wrote before Dollhouse. Best part? You can download the script as a PDF.

Because science fiction is close to my heart, here is a really interesting article about why SF will never be considered "literature" - ever. Because if it is literature (even with sci-fi elements), then it is not sci-fi. There are quotes from real people on this. Bah.

On a more serious note, many of you have heard about the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and its new regulations and how it will affect us as book bloggers. It's not a pretty picture. For those who don't know what is going down, here is a great article that gives a comprehensive overview, and here is an interview with one of the members of the FTC, specifically geared toward books, reviews, and ARCs. Make sure you read the comments after the interview. This has serious ramifications for us as bloggers. I'm not kidding, this is bad.

To end on a lighter note, there is an awesome contest being done over at Squeaky Books for a hardcover copy of Ice by Sarah Durst. It's a modern extension/retelling of my favorite fairy tale, so how could I not include it? :) Contest ends next Wed (Oct 14th) and 11:59.

A Katniss Everdeen Halloween

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Into the Twilight by Amethystium.

As you may know, I am dressing up as the ever-cool Katniss Everdeen for Halloween. I am so excited and not only because she is superamazing - well, that has a lot to do with it, but also because I match her somewhat physically. My skin is best described as "olive" (my sister likes to say it is yellow and green, to which I promptly refuse to make her the cookies she's been asking for), and I tan easily. Which I discovered all over again when I came in from reading a book outside a week ago and had the brightest farmer's tan you could imagine. I was horrified. It's fall! I thought the sun was getting lower in the sky! Goodness, but it did encourage me for my costume (though my shoulder has quite a bit of catch-up to do).

However, I do not have black hair. I always knew she had dark hair, but I imagined it more a dark brown (yeah, there was no projection there) ;), but sure enough, double checking, she has black hair, olive skin and gray eyes (okay, I'm shot for the eyes too. But man, she must look so gorgeous. No wonder our bread boy loves her so much). :) For reasons I cannot divulge quite yet, I cannot dye my hair, even temporarily. I would have loved to. I can't afford gray contacts, so people will have to use their imaginations there. But at least I have the proper hair length! And I can braid my hair! (sounds dumb, but that is quite an accomplishment in my book).

I love Halloween. It's a time when you get to be someone different, someone not yourself (or someone all-too like yourself). You know, break out and have it be socially endorsed (which I personally think should happen all the time). Plus there is candy. Always a plus.

I am going to be doing some research and report back. You will be informed of all my adventures in this grand endeavor. WriterGirl over and out.

Review - Crogan's Vengeance by Chris Schweizer

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): A Window To The Past by John Williams [Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban soundtrack].

As an undercover superhero, I make it my duty as WriterGirl to bring forward amazing fiction and save them from the depths of obscurities. These are my rules:

I will focus on YA and Children's literature (with very rare exceptions).
I will not review any book that is one of the top 25,000 selling books (based on Amazon ranks).
I will try and aim for books 100,000 or larger.
I will not review books before my 2005 (with very rare exceptions).

Today is the first graphic novel review on The Secret Adventures of WriterGirl and I'm so pleased to have found such a gem as this one.

Crogan's Vengeance by Chris Schweizer
Originally published: October 22, 2008
Current Amazon Rank: #318,928
Pages: 189

First Line: ... AND he'll be here every other week to mow your lawn.

My Take: As the first in a planned 16-book series, The Crogan Adventures are to follow the line of the Crogans from pirate Catfoot Crogan down to private eye "Calloway" Crogan. It's ambitious, bold, and I love it.

I was a bit hesitant at first to pick this up because the art style. At first glance it seems exaggerated and even Sunday-comic cartoonish. But the bold, fluid lines give as much or more emotion than a more realistic detailed depiction could. It becomes fairly easily to slip beyond into the story. Because the story is in fact very good.

Set in a "frame story" (like Scheherazade) it follows the adventures of a young, honest sailor Crogan under the command of a Captain who has a vendetta against his family. His fortunes quickly change (but not necessarily for the better) when the crew is forced to turn pirate to stay alive.

It was really interesting to see shades of gray on the "bad" side. So while he is a thieving, stealing pirate, he still manages to show mercy and unflinching courage. And even better? This is historically accurate. Chris Schweizer spent hours upon hours pouring over pirate books (and even wrote/drew all of this to pirate music) :) to make this as cool and correct as possible. And he is showing that same devotion to all the books he is writing about (which include ninjas, a marksman, gunfighter, WWI pilot, legionnaire, escape artist- just to name a few). So you can excuse this fun, swashbuckling high-seas adventures as a learning experience, but it goes down easy, like a delicious hot fudge sundae. :) I read this in a setting and am quite eager for the next book to come out this Christmas (Crogan's March - the French Legionnaire), though I sincerely hope we will return to a lovable now-favorite pirate of mine. :)

The Final Word: Great fun, a wonderful read with memorable characters you will certainly like and possibly love. Different, but in a very good way.

Feature Fun Friday - The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): White Shadows by Coldplay.

I'm so excited that it is finally October. Not only did I watch my first annual screening of Nightmare Before Christmas (which I am now allowed to watch through December. My poor poor family), but I have been positively giddy for the Feature Fun Fridays to begin. Yes, giddy. I've found some seriously cool stuff. And we begin with perhaps the coolest of them all.

Neil Gaiman. The writing god it seems sometimes. He's everywhere and oh so eloquent. And who can't help but love that accent? :)

I've heard nothing but praises sung up and down for The Graveyard Book, but I've avoided it because I was late to jump on the wagon and I'd be labled a "follower." But no more! Time to kick that pride in the hiney cause this trailer caught me hook, line, and sinker.

It is simple, it is elegant, and it is everything you could want in a book trailer. Gaiman himself narrates it and his voice is like a melody and harmony at once. Just hearing him narrate, you can see what a brilliant writer he is, and that all his praise is probably well deserved. I'm buying this book. Now. Today. This is the perfect Halloween read.

The second is an interview with WIRED about The Graveyard Book and some very cool insights surrounding it. He talks about the video tour he did, reading a chapter in each city he visited (all are online and they are just as incredible as the trailer. He is an author who knows how to read). And any of you who haven't visited his blog, you are missing out on something incredible. He is funny and sweet and I couldn't stop reading. His post just yesterday about how he won a PIE from his editor for making it a year on the bestseller list - fantastic. I was smiling the whole time. I'm in love. I have a new literary crush. Have a phenomenal weekend everyone! Go wrap yourself in an adventure of your own. :)

Well THAT was an adventure.

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Sure Thing Falling by Yellowcard.

Goodness knows I haven't posted about my secret capers in a little while but there was no reason to go to such extreme measures to thrust me in the action-filled chaos of my blog template being eaten by photobucket munchies. Japanese kami, tengu, I blame this all on you.

Fantastic news is I found another site whose template was still working! So my old template is back. I've never wanted to hug virtual pixels so much in my entire life. (And all my followers came back when I reloaded the widget. So happy about that). But this lead to an serious question. Should I change my template to something more *ahem* stable/attractive/interesting/[insert your favorite new adjective here]? Because though I love this template to pieces, there are a few tweaky things wrong with it.

Because I found a few possibilities after more hours than I am willing to admit to while hunting around the web. Here they are, if you so desire to take a hand in recrafting my blog. Their all links to working demos (that's huge by the way. I almost uploaded the exact same ruined template because I almost forgot to check the demo. The demo shows if the template is live or not). I've left it all anonymous, so you can rip me to shreds and I'll never know who you are. :) I also included my current template in the poll so you can vote for that if you want nothing to change.

Water Color This one has a lot of pretty interesting colors I like, and the style is different. The problems are that it is a 2-columned blog (and I am partial to 3-columns) and that is doesn't have a Recent Comments section, which I have grown fond of.

Design Blog Look, it's so happy. ^_^ And it even has a pencil in it for WriterGirl and gives a feeling of imagination which I like. The spaces between text and graphics are really good. It's quite different, but a little simple. And again, no Recent Comments. :(

Girls' Fantasy-land If those girls all dressed up don't convey me in my various adventures, I don't know what does. It's sweet, it's whimsical, and there is even a notebook border that is also very writer-y. It has Recent Comments too! Not exactly in my favorite place, but it has them! Even better, it has buttons where you can do all sorts of cool features to share the amazing and fabulous posts I write. :) That last part is a bit over the top? Yeah, I thought so too. Bad parts? It's a 2-columned blog and some might take it as too "cutesy."

Notebook Very stylized and swirly designs, but the color palette is lacking, I think. It's quite pretty but a bit vague on the subject matter. It has the torn notebook paper border and again, no Recent Comments.

Craftwork This one is the most similar to my current template, but I still don't quite know what's up with the cute nerdy little boy. :) 2-columned and the border spacing leaves something to be desired. The overlapping of text is not pleasing to look at.

Color-o-Ring This one has a clean, pleasing design. I like the various colors (which help for adding any photos so that don't clash with your blog) and the circles are happy, which I also am. :) The crinkled paper and sticky note give hints to it being a writer-y type blog. 2-columned which is sad, but again, it is very clean so it bugs me less than usual. Oh, and no Recent Comments (I wonder if that is hard to program?)

Art Template And last but not least - my current template! I really do love this one. It's so different (like I am), quirky (like me), spontaneous and fun and random (I see a pattern developing here...). However, there are things I do not like. You'll notice the "Home" "About" and "FAQ" tabs at the top? I'm sure you've tried to click them. I have no idea how to get them to work. I'm not a very good programmer. Also, my profile paragraph is uber skinny and extends to forever long. The other things are nit-picks, but these are the big ones.

So please help me decide whether to keep or change my template, and if so, which one. Thanks so much guys. And a BIG thank you to all of you who emailed me and told me of the problem. I am so grateful to you guys. Oh, and I checked, there weren't any apparent fang marks, so we'll assume this was indeed not the work of vampires. :)