Friday, October 28, 2011

The Hairy Hand of Fuller Lake

One of my favorite Halloween traditions is carving pumpkins at my grandparents' cabin. We carve on the rickety picnic table outside, throwing the guts right on the ground. Then we carry them through the woods in the dusk, pausing at the end of the path to light the candles. On the beach of the tiny lake, a crowd gathers before a three-tiered float. Park rangers place the pumpkin offerings gently onto it. And then the story starts--an old, folksy rendition of the local legend of the Hairy Hand of Fuller Lake. Legend goes that miners hit a natural spring in the ore pit, which promptly flooded to create the lake. One heavily-bearded, foolish miner went back for the lunch pail containing his wife's prized pumpkin pie and met his grisly end. Now every Halloween (or a conveniently-closely-timed weekend) the Hairy Hand rises up from the lake, desperate for pumpkin! And at the end of the story, a giant green hand rises from the opposite shore, and the crowd on the beach shouts, "Go away, Hairy Hand!" until it sinks again.

This story used to be super-scary when I was a kid. Now it's kind of hilarious. And I discovered that after taking a few years off, my pumpkin-carving skills are a little rusty. My sister and her fiance rocked it though (see the evidence below: Rob and his fauxhawk pumpkin; Amber's Angry Birds pumpkin).


Ready for their offering to the Hairy Hand: my owl, my husband's Pac-Man, Rob's fauxhawk, Amber's pig from Angry Birds.


Did you carve a pumpkin this year? Tell me about it! Or if you're doing it last-minute and need ideas, YA Highway has some YA-lit patterns here.

Jessica Spotswood is the author of BORN WICKED, the first book in the Cahill Witch Chronicles, coming Feb. 7, 2012 from Putnam. She likes reading stories about independent girls who still get in a fair amount of swoony kissing, so that's what she tries to write. She lives in Washington, DC with her playwright husband and a cuddly cat named Monkey.


Currently on her nightstand: the totally charming, delightful REMARKABLE by Lizzie K. Foley.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Whovian Halloween

Three years ago, I sneakily used Halloween to hook a friend on Doctor Who. I sent her a short clip of a creepy abandoned house and menacing stone statues and then, the second she expressed interest, I showed up on her doorstep with the episode on DVD.

So when I was scrambling for a topic for today's blog post, I thought it'd be great to share my top three episodes for a truly Whovian Halloween.

(Note: I stuck to the new series. If you're super keen and want a classic Who Halloween, I'd recommend Ghost Light.)


1) "Blink" (Season Three, 10th Doctor)
Blink is the perfect creepy episode. You've got an abandoned house, mysterious disappearances, evil statues, and cryptic messages from the past. The episode is about as close to standalone as you can get so you can follow it even if you've never seen another episode.



2) "Midnight" (Season Four, 10th Doctor)
A small group of strangers trapped in a confined space and a monster that can't be seen but can somehow possess people and steal their voices. I think the scariest thing about this episode is how very frightened the Doctor is and how completely he loses control.



3) "The Doctor's Wife" (Season Six, 11th Doctor)
Because I'm pretty sure every female fan watching did, at least once, wonder if they could somehow cosplay Idris (or at least dress like her for Halloween). Plus, the episode was written by Neil Gaiman. You like Neil, don't you?



Honorable Mention, Torchwood's "Countrycide"
It became apparent early in the first season of Torchwood that it was a much darker show than Doctor Who. Never was that more obvious in that first season than "Countrycide." 17 people have gone missing in a remote area. When the Torchwood team arrives to investigate, they find... cannibals! Really scary, unrepentant cannibals.


---

Kathleen Peacock is a semi-reformed vampire addict and unapologetic geek who has taken to writing about werewolves. Her debut, HEMLOCK, will be published by Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollins, in Summer 2012. Visit her website at www.kathleenpeacock.com.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Margarita and the Haunted Mansion

Your parents have warned you. The police have threatened you. And I’m here to drive it home once again. Drinking alcohol can be dangerous … to your liver, to drivers on the road with you, and to your personal freedom. Because alcohol makes us careless, fearless, ambitious! Which is not always a good thing.

*presses rewind button*

Here I am, sitting in a neighborhood Italian restaurant with my husband, Jerry, pre-children. We can’t have children yet because we adopted a rescue Yorkie named Dougie who hates kids but loves steak, so I always order the prime rib and save half for him. I am young. I am ridiculous. I am sipping my third margarita. When I’m out for dinner, I usually have one. Once in a while, I’ll have a second. I don’t know why I was drinking a third on this night, but this is how the conversation went:

Gina to restaurant owner, Johnnie, who also happens to live across the street from her – “You know, Johnnie, you should let me decorate this big picture window sill for Halloween. I could make a huuuuuuuuuuuge haunted gingerbread mansion and these wicked cute paper ribbon witch dolls and gauze ghosts and EVERYTHING!”

Jerry: “Uh, Gina …”

Johnnie: “Hey, that sounds great! But I can’t afford to pay you.”

Gina: “Noooooo problem! You can sell my paper witch dolls for me! And Jerry could wire the gingerbread house so it would light up! And after Halloween, I could make you one for CHRISTMAS! With paper angels that play Silent Night when you press their stomach!”

Jerry: “UH, GINA …”

Johnnie: “Wow! That would be great! You’d really do that?”

Gina: “Oh, sure! It would be fun!”

Jerry: “DO YOU REALLY HAVE TIME FOR THIS?”

Gina: “Oh, sure! This is going to be GREAT!”

*presses fast forward button to next morning*

Gina: “Ugh! Did I really tell Johnnie I’d make a gingerbread house for his picture window?”

Jerry: “No. You told Johnnie you’d make two gingerbread mansions for his picture window.”

Gina: “Crap! Never let me drink again!

See? Alcohol is dangerous stuff! But I said I’d do it, so it had to get done. I learned to decorate cakes so I could help out at my step-father’s ice cream store, but I didn't consider myself a pro - it was more of a hobby. I had done three wedding cakes and two small gingerbread houses before, but I had never attempted a gingerbread house of this magnitude before.

The restaurant had a big windowsill, probably eight feet wide, and over four feet high, so I knew I needed to make a big house. This was before the internet, so I didn’t have the luxury of Googling inspiration and I had to design the house myself. I made a template from cardboard, and I had to make sure it was big enough to fill up the window, but not so big that I couldn’t fit the pieces in my oven. The fact that it was a haunted house meant I could get away with some crooked-ness because like I said, I'm no pro. And why I decided to shingle the roof with sliced almonds, I do not know … that alone took about six hours. I would say I spent a total of at least 80 hours between planning, shopping, baking, assembling and the worst part … clean up L


In the end, it stood almost three feet high, and it took two of us to lift it.



Everything except the base, the wiring components my husband used to light it up and a tree branch was edible. Yes, those are candy stones along the bottom - they tasted like jelly beans.



My suggestion to Johnnie was to wrap it up well and it would keep for the following year – my sister-in-law displayed a gingerbread house I had made for her kids for five years and it was still good. They did sell about 20 of the paper witches I made, but more people wanted to know if I would make them a gingerbread house (ha! no!) Before they even took the Halloween house down, I already started planning the Christmas house.

The sad part is that by the time I finished the Christmas house, I was completely burnt out (and because I didn’t learn my lesson, I shingled that roof with Smarties). My son is now 18 and my daughter is 13, and I’ve never made a gingerbread house for them.

Hmmmm … it’s a little late for Halloween, but Christmas is coming! 



Gina Rosati is the author of Auracle which debuts August 7, 2012 from Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan. She lives in NH with her very pragmatic husband and two gingerbread-deprived children. Although she will be sewing an ice princess costume for her daughter this week.

What's on Gina's Nightstand? Just finished and love EVERYBODY SEES THE ANTS by A.S. King, THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern, and LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR by Stephanie Perkins

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Ghost Story

The Emerson Majestic Theatre
When I was an acting major at Emerson College in Boston, I used to work as a stagehand at Emerson's glorious downtown theatre, The Majestic.  Built in 1901, it was a true example of that golden age of theatre, with its string-of-pearls lighting and Nouveau murals.

It was also notoriously haunted.

Theatres are gathering spots for spirits, and the Majestic was no exception.  There were several deaths in the theatre throughout its history, including a man who fell from the 2nd balcony, and a Massachusetts governor who had a heart attack watching South Pacific.  (Not sure whether that was brought on by bad health, or bad lyrics.)  Many people who worked there reported strange sights, sounds, and occurences.

The Alley Theatre, Houston
One summer, I was assistant stage-managing a world premiere play alongside a lovely stage manager named Melinda.  Melinda was from Texas and had worked for years at the Alley Theatre in Houston.  One day she and were sitting backstage, talking about haunted theatres, and I lamented the fact that although I believe strongly in the spirit world, I'm dead to it.  I don't get those "feelings" that other people get in the presence of something otherworldly.

"I'm dead to the spirit world too," Melinda said, "but I did have this one experience at the Alley."

And she proceeded to tell me this story.

The Alley Theatre was founded by a woman in the late '40's, and has a strong history of employing women and promoting female artists.  In the early 80's, one such woman named Iris worked as a managing director at the theatre.  At one point during her career there, she hired a security guard...a standard hire, nothing unusual.  A few months later, she ran routine background checks on every employee at the theatre, and discovered that this security guard was wanted in another state.  She promptly fired him.

Iris was a night owl, and liked to work late at the theatre, often after everyone else had gone home.  One late night, she was there, and the disgruntled security guard, aware of her work habits, snuck into the theatre.

He strangled her to death with a telephone cord.

He was convicted of murder and put on death row.

Ten years later, I was stage managing a show at the Alley, and one of my crew members called in sick.  So I called my friend Stacy to fill in.  I ran down the list of what she needed to do, and Stacy went to the theatre early in the day before the show to set everything up for herself.

The theatre of the Alley is set up so directly behind the stage is a central vaum.  Meaning, there's a hallway that runs along the back side of the stage, with a door that leads straight from the stage to the hallway.  Stacy was in the vaum when she heard a strange sound coming from the stage.

The sound of someone violently choking.

She rushed onto the stage...but it was empty.  

She ran through the wings, the pit, the dressing rooms...all empty.  The Alley is an entire complex, with the offices in a separate building, and at that time of day, no one but her was in the theatre.

Chalking it up to her imagination, Stacy left.  I arrived at the theatre that evening, and the show ran without a hitch.  My roommate at the time was also working crew, and the two of us went through our post-show routine - locking doors, turning off lights, putting props and set pieces back to where they belonged.  Everyone else had left, and I was about to do my final check of the stage.  I put my hand on the door in the central vaum to the stage.

While I am dead to the spirit world, my roommate was not.  She put her hand on my arm.  "Don't open that door," she said.

"What?  Why?"

"Just - don't open that door." 

I ignored her, and opened the door.

It was like looking at the pit of hell.  The stage was gone.  The theatre was gone.  It was a black vortex of nothingness, an empty hole filled with misery and pain.  If I had stepped out onto where the stage should be, I would have fallen into a bottomless pit.

I screamed and ran from the theatre, my roommate close on my heels.  We left the doors unlocked, our purses still in the dressing room, and dove into my car.  We didn't stop screaming until we pulled into parking lot of the nearest bar.

We ran into the bar and dropped into two stools, panting.  The bar was the regular theatre hangout, so it wasn't a surprise to see Stacy there, having a drink.  "What happened to you two?" she asked.

We told her.  She then told us about her experience earlier in the day.  And then no sooner were the words out of her mouth that all three of us became aware of the news story on the television above the bar.

The man who had murdered Iris was supposed to have been executed that day, and had had a stay of execution.

At that point in the story, Melinda turned to me.  "Iris was pissed," she said.  "And she let all of us know it.  The next night I was in the theatre until one in the morning without a single incident."

The man who murdered Iris was eventually executed.  But people still report seeing her ghost on the fourth floor, just outside her old office.

Nicole Maggi lives in Los Angeles, CA with her amazingly supportive husband and beautiful daughter Emilia.  She graduated from Emerson College with a BFA, and worked as an actress for many years in New York before the lure of sunshine and avocados enticed her to the West Coast.  Though she still acts, her focus now is on her writing.  In her very limited spare time, Nicole enjoys yoga, hiking, baking...and eating what she bakes!  Her novel SHIFT will be out in early 2013 from HarperTeen.  Follow her on Twitter so she can reach her goal of 1000 followers by her book's release!

Monday, October 24, 2011

I Got a Rock: A Halloween Playlist

The orange plastic jack o’ lanterns are stocked with Hershey’s miniatures, the neighbor has strung cotton batting across the fa├žade of their house and a swarm of bloodthirsty bats are inexplicably circling the sky—it’s time to complete the mood with some spooked-out music.



Halloween 1978/ John Carpenter
Freaks Come out at Night/ Whodini
Ghost Town/ The Specials
I Put a Spell on You/ Screamin' Jay Hawkins
Mommy Can I Go Out and Kill Tonight?/ The Misfits
Dracula’s Wedding/ Outkast
Frankenstein/ New York Dolls
Halloween/ Sonic Youth
I Walked with a Zombie/ Roky Erickson and the 13th Floor Elevators
Halloween Parade/ Lou Reed
Season of the Witch/ Donovan
Iron Man/ Black Sabbath
Suspiria/ Goblins
Monster/ Kanye West, Jay-Z & Nicki Minaj
I Got a Rock/ Kid Koala and MF Doom




My debut young adult novel PRETTY CROOKED (Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins) will be released in March 2012. Even though I had to extensively research pickpocketing techniques to write it, I remain a law-abiding citizen. I live in Philadelphia with my husband Jesse and cat Beau a.k.a. Bread. When I'm not writing for teens, I'm cooking and/or writing about food for The Philadelphia Inquirer and other publications. I'm a proud member of The Apocalypsies.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Halloween Therapy



The scariest thing coming my way this month? Having to come up with a Halloween post.


Yes, I know you love Halloween. Everyone seems to. Frankly, it’s never been my cup of tea. To me, Halloween equals Public Humiliation.


Maybe it’s because it can’t help but conjure up so many mortifying memories--like in 7th grade when I came to school as Raggedy Ann (complete with red yarn wig), while everyone else had "matured" to dressing up as Grim Reapers, Jason, and Carrie after the prom.


Or maybe 8th grade, when I set out to win the costume contest as a giant can of Campbell’s Tomato soup, but tipped over and rolled across the stage.


Or maybe 9th grade when I stayed home from Trick-or-Treating, and my mom made me pass out “treats” to all the cool kids who came to our door. It didn’t help that that was the year Mom decided to support good dental hygiene and offer Trident sugarless gum. “Cinnamon flavor,” she said, “because it’s scarier.”


Or maybe in college when I got sick on my Statue of Liberty robes and won the costume contest for going so far as to replicate pidgeon poo on the statue.


Or maybe it was last year when my best friend posted a video of me singing karaoke as Toonces the Driving Cat (from SNL circa 1990). If you Facebook friend me, you can see it in my videos.


So maybe this post will be good for me. It’s probably time I embraced my most embarrassing moments.


Call it Halloween therapy.


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------




Anne Greenwood Brown

LIES BENEATH

A revenge/love story about murderous mermaids on Lake Superior

Random House/Delacorte, June 12, 2012

Thursday, October 20, 2011

It's Halloween, Charlie Frown!

Oh Halloween. I love this time of year more than chocolate or salted caramel mochas...and that's saying something. So I decided to take you on a tour of my favorite Halloween traditions.

Here you go...


What are some of your favorite Halloween traditions?

**************************************
DANIEL MARKS is a YA Fantasy Author, Vlogger and General Smart-ass. His Debut YA novel, VELVETEEN comes out in the Fall of 2012 from Delacorte/Random House Kids. Until then, he's more than happy to dance like a monkey for your pleasure!

CURRENT READS: DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE by Laini Taylor and BAD TASTE IN BOYS by Carrie Harris

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Top Five Halloween Episodes

Halloween can bring out the best in writers - especially television writers.  That's why almost every T.V. show has a Halloween episode, and very often those episodes are some of the cleverest, funniest, and best-written.  It's hard to choose just five when there are so many great ones, but here are my five favorite Halloween episodes of all time.

5. ANGEL - The Life of the Party - Season Five.
Overtired and overworked demon Lorne throws a huge bash for Angel and the gang, but his exhausted mind starts to play tricks on him.  Mainly, every little throwaway comment manifests into reality, resulting in hilarity.  Angel & Eve can't stop having sex, Gunn pees on everything, and Fred & Wesley get rip-roaring drunk (without ever having a drink).  It follows in the grand Joss Whedon tradition of making the characters step outside themselves...which is what Halloween is all about.

4. GILMORE GIRLS - The Festival of Living Art - Season Four.
OK, this isn't actually a Halloween episode, but it aired right around Halloween and it involves costumes and pageantry.  Stars Hollow hosts a festival of living art, and the town goes crazy trying to pull it off.  Kirk takes his role of Jesus Christ in The Last Supper a little too seriously, and Lorelai panics that she'll flinch onstage, as she did the last time.  Meanwhile, Sookie's baby is overdue and she's going out of her mind.  All these threads wind together into one fabulous climax - a fistfight between Jesus and Judas, and Lorelai's baby-pager going off while she's onstage as the Renoir Girl in Dance at Bougival.  Does she flinch?  You'll have to watch the episode to find out.

3. FREAKS & GEEKS - Tricks & Treats - Season One
The third episode of this brilliant-but-cancelled series finds the freaks and geeks gang dealing with growing pains - mainly, the pain of outgrowing Halloween.  Sam finds he's outgrown trick-or-treating, while Lindsay tries to be the grown-up cool kid and go tricking with her new friends.  Meanwhile, their mom Jean realizes that the world has outgrown her homemade cookies (a wonderful nostalgic moment that harkens back to all the urban legends about razor blades in chocolate that we heard as kids).  Of course, the real high point of this episode is Sam's friend Bill dressed as Jaime Sommers aka the Bionic Woman, not to mention the monologue he has in front of the mirror while he's making himself over.  Priceless.

2. FRASIER - Halloween - Season Five
Niles holds a high-society Halloween party where everyone must come dressed as a literary character.  Roz, worried that she's pregnant, comes to the party in a leather bustier, miniskirt and fishnets, prompting this exchange:
"Who are you supposed to be?"
"O, from The Story of O."
"Ooooooh."
And though it's repeated at least three times, it never stops being funny.  Add in Niles as a drunk Cyrano, Frasier as a randy Chaucer, and Bulldog as Waldo (yes, from Where's Waldo), and you've got one of my all-time favorite episodes of this long-running show.

1. BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER - Halloween - Season Two
Anyone who's read my blogs before knows what a huge Buffy fan I am.  The series had three Halloween episodes, all of which are great, but season two's Halloween is by far the best.  Early in the episode we learn that Halloween is actually an off-night for vampires.  They like to stay in and let the humans have their fun.  Generous of them, isn't it?  Anticipating a relaxing night, Buffy and the gang get decked out in their costumes...but little do they know that the costumes have been cursed.  Everyone turns into what they've dressed up as - Willow's a ghost, bumbling Xander turns into a single-minded soldier, and Buffy becomes a helpless, damsel-in-distress from the 18th century who's prone to fainting.  Joss Whedon loves to make his characters step outside their comfort zone (see the Angel episode, above) and this episode is one of the shining jewels in the Buffy crown.

Okay, there's my top five.  What did I leave off the list?  What are your favorite Halloween episodes?

Nicole Maggi lives in Los Angeles, CA with her amazingly supportive husband and beautiful daughter Emilia.  She graduated from Emerson College with a BFA, and worked as an actress for many years in New York before the lure of sunshine and avocados enticed her to the West Coast.  Though she still acts, her focus now is on her writing.  In her very limited spare time, Nicole enjoys yoga, hiking, baking...and eating what she bakes!  Her novel SHIFT will be out in early 2013 from HarperTeen.  Follow her on Twitter so she can reach her goal of 1000 followers by her book's release!

INNOCENT DARKNESS has a cover!

I am so excited to show  you my cover for INNOCENT DARKNESS, my YA steampunk dark fairytale.


The book doesn't release until 8/8/12 from Flux, but I'm so excited about my beautiful cover art that I'm running a contest over at my personal blog.  Come join in the fun and tell me what you think.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Things That Scare Me

Alright, I don't dig scary movies. I just don't see the value of screaming, twitching, jumping, or convulsing when there's popcorn in your hand. Really, people--priorities. Besides, there are many things that scare the crap out of me in every day life.


Wolf Spiders

Yeah. I'm not good with spiders in general, but these spiders can be huge depending on their type, and they BURROW INTO THE GROUND. So that they can JUMP OUT and NINJA ATTACK THEIR PREY.

Now, I'm not a big fan of things that jump out at me in general (I mean, really, what's that about?) but a spider? That like actively attacks? A wolf spider can take down a raccoon. How far a cry is that from a person? I mean, it could definitely kill a kid. It's like a natural born terrorist or something. Ehgkk.


Pettiness and Idiocy

I understand that controversy is usually a good thing. It means people are active, engaged, even outraged--it means there's passion and excitement in the mix. If you ban books, it probably means that more people will read them. In the end, I have more faith in curiosity and a love of knowledge than I do hatred and fear (despite this post), so I believe these things will come down on that side of intellectual curiosity. BUT. Being small, petty and mean are different things entirely, because often they're cruel with the guise of "integrity". That's pretty fearsome, and sometimes, the right side does not win out over pettiness.

If you don't know what I'm referring to, check out Libba Bray's reaction. Or this. Or this, an excellent cross-webs recap.

Weird Ambient Noises

My father's house (aside from being a renovated church) also has a basement that is really just a dirt pit. The structure is really old, so it has a foundation, but nothing was ever really done with it and it doesn't really have access points. So since people can't be down there, animals are. Supposedly there are feral cats, and god knows what else. At night, you can hear scratching, rustling, and general creepy noises.

Basically, it's just the fear of the total unknown descending on my head in the darkness.


Edits

Some edits are scary, some are not. I was totally cool with copy edits--it was basically just yes/no/change kind of thing, and didn't require too much actual creativity--but the first round of edits with my editor was possibly the scariest thing in my life so far. Mostly because at that point, I was still very skittish from having several rounds of edits with agents that would ultimately not sign me, so edits still felt like this trial by fire wherein they might decide they didn't like me after all and would not, in fact, take my book to prom.

Beyond that anxiety, the cool and scary thing about edits is that your editor will inevitably suggest changes that make so much sense! seem so cool! are totally awesome! and then you need to, you know, actually figure out how to write those into existence. On a deadline.


But then, I guess that the coolest thing about edits is when you actually DO what you have to do in the time you have been given to do it. Facing your fears usually works out pretty well, and you come out the other side stronger and smarter.

But don't think for a SECOND that I'm facing down a ninja spider.

---
AC Gaughen is the author of Scarlet, a retelling of the Robin Hood legend that reimagines Will Scarlet as a butt-kicking girl. Check it out February 14th, 2012 from Bloomsbury|Walker. Or just come visit her website. Or come stalk her on Twitter.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Halloween Recipes: Harry Potter Pumpkin Spice Cakes

Since we've been discussing on the blog various Halloween recipes, I thought I would be remiss if I didn't bring up the book series that ties Halloween and food together in a big way.

Harry Potter. It kind of goes without saying, right?

Not only did J.K. Rowling open up the doors to a magical world of witches and wizards, but she also introduced an entire world of culinary delights such as pumpkin pasties, sugar quills, butter beer, and cauldron cakes just to name a few. And, while we as readers have never eaten such things, it isn't hard for us to imagine the way they would taste on our tongue.

Ear wax Bertie Bott's every flavour bean?

Um...yeah...

Anyway, as a die hard Harry Potter fan girl...

*cough*




*ahem*

Of course I would try my hand at making some of the foods talked about in the book. So, in honor of the Harry Potter finale now playing in theaters, I bring you my recipe for

Harry Potter Pumpkin Spice Cakes

And the best part is, they're really simple and really low in fat. Yay!

First, you'll need to gather your ingredients:


1 Box of Spice Cake Mix
1 Can of Pureed Pumpkin
1/2 Cup (or one of those individual cups) of Applesauce
1 Bag of Cinnamon Chips (located by the chocolate chips)

To start, preheat your over to 350 degrees. Add the cake mix, pumpkin, and applesauce together in a bowl and stir by hand until blended.


Next, add in the cinnamon chips.


When all the ingredients are combined, grease twenty-four muffin cups (I use the spray on vegetable oil) and fill each muffin cup with you cake mix. You can fill your muffin cups all the way to the top as your cakes will not rise that much.


Finally, put your cakes in the oven and bake for twenty-five minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. When the muffins are done, let them cool for five minutes and enjoy.


Ah, it's a trip to Hogwarts with every bite.

How about you? What are your favorite Halloween recipes?




When Cole Gibsen isn't writing books for young adults, she can be found rocking out with her band, sewing crazy costumes for the fun of it, picking off her nail polish, or drinking straight from the jug--provided no one is looking.

Her debut novel, KATANA, will be available March 8th, 2012. For more information about Cole you can check out her website.www.colegibsen.com

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Halloween Cocktails

Or, just think of me as the Ecuadorian Martha.
Or, how I like to think of myself as Margarita Stewart.

This year, I've decided to go all out and do a specialty cocktail. I haven't figured out which one yet, but I wanted to share with you some of the BEAUTIFUL things I've found.

I thought it'd be fun to rename some of Martha's cocktails as YA novels. Click on the links for the recipes. What do you think?

(non-alcoholic) 

Blood and Chocolate


The Little Left Over Witch

(for the 21+ crowd)
Bad Taste in Boys

BLACK HEART

Going Bovine

NEVER SLOW DANCE WITH A ZOMBIE

ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD

Friday, October 14, 2011

Why I Heart The Vampire Diaries


THE VAMPIRE DIARIES is my favorite show on television. It’s the only one I consider appointment TV. Last night, for instance, I was watching with my sister, and my mom started talking during the last ten minutes, and I was all, I KNOW IT’S YOUR HOUSE BUT SHHH.

Granted, this show features some very handsome men. Like Damon here.

And Alaric. And Jeremy. And Tyler. And I find Klaus's mouth strangely mesmerizing...

But mostly it’s because of the writing. It’s brilliant. Revelations that in lesser hands would be teased out over an entire season happen in one episode and then we're on to the next. You think X is the Big Bad? Well, it turns out there's a Bigger Bad that he's scared of. I never see the plot twists coming. Characters are turned into vampires, or werewolves, or killed off entirely. Beloved characters’ necks are snapped in a fit of vampire pique only to be resurrected by magic. The hero becomes a villain; the villain becomes a sort of hero. Dead girlfriends reappear as ghosts, but can they be trusted? Is that the heroine or her evil doppelganger?

It’s shocking—but it never feels like the writers are toying with us just for shock value. The twists and turns make sense through the lens of character; the way each of the (surviving) characters has grown over three seasons is incredible. Caroline was a seemingly vapid, neurotic cheerleader; now she's my favorite character, a fiercely loyal kick-ass vampire. As a viewer, I’ve come to a wary trust with the writers. I know they won’t hesitate to kill off a character I love (oh, I worry for Matt's well-being!), or have him do something so despicable it walks the line of unforgivable--but I know they'll have a good reason for doing it. And that makes for some fantastic, edge-of-the-seat viewing.


Jessica Spotswood is the author of BORN WICKED, the first book in the Cahill Witch Chronicles, coming Feb. 7, 2012 from Putnam. She likes reading stories about independent girls who still get in a fair amount of swoony kissing, so that's what she tries to write. She lives in Washington, DC with her playwright husband and a cuddly cat named Monkey.


Currently on her nightstand: THE CATASTROPHIC HISTORY OF YOU & ME, by Jess Rothenberg.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Team Werewolf vs Team Vamp: The Musical Edition

With Halloween fast approaching, I thought it might be a good time to share my favorite werewolf and vamp songs. Absolute favorites only. One song each. A battle to the death (no, not really).

To qualify, each song had to have "vampire" or "werewolf" somewhere in the title or lyrics. "Bad Moon Rising" may be a totally awesome theme song for a pack of werewolves, but it doesn't meet the minimum requirements for this post.

Team Vamp



"Love Song for a Vampire" by Annie Lennox gets to go first by virtue of my loving it for almost twenty years. I was OBSESSED with this song in high school. MuchMusic (the Canadian equivalent of MTV) had a request show and I would try to call it in at least twice a week. Alas, I never made it past the busy signal.

Team Werewolf


Up for Team Werewolf is "How to Be a Werewolf" by Mogwai. Both the song and the music video just make me feel incredibly peaceful and strong. The ending, when the biker is surrounded by a sea of white, is just beautiful.

So those are my two favorite vamp and werewolf songs. What are yours?

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Kathleen Peacock is a semi-reformed vampire addict and unapologetic geek who has taken to writing about werewolves. Her debut, HEMLOCK, will be published by Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollins, in Summer 2012. Visit her website at www.kathleenpeacock.com.