Thursday, December 29, 2011

My New Year's Resolution

You may have noticed that I haven't posted in a while. I'm afraid I've been feeling rather uninspired. I'm in a rut.

Those of you who know me probably aren't shocked by this news. Having written four books in four years, I've spent way too much time in front of my computer. I haven't been reading strange books. (In fact, I haven't been reading much of anything lately!) I've stopped exploring the city I love so much. I haven't been sampling strange foods or learning "useful" new skills. I've been typing. And typing. And typing.

Don't get me wrong--I've been having a blast. My latest books (The Darkness Dwellers and my "secret project") are the best novels I've written. But I've emptied my heart and my brain, and now they both need to be filled.

So here's my New Year's Resolution . . . I'm going to make 2012 my year of ADVENTURE. Every Sunday, I'll set out in search of inspiration. I'm going to go new places. Eat strange things. Do things I wouldn't normally do. And I'm going to write about it here. Heck, I'm even going to TWEET about it! (Look for Bank St. Irregular on Twitter.)

I encourage all of you to join my quest to re-discover the weird and the wonderful. If you find adventure--and you'd like to share the experience with the Bank St. Irregular readers, just send an email to!

And if you have any suggestions for me, send those, too! Weird books to read. Unusual places to visit. Tasty invertebrates to consume. Whatever you recommend, I'll try my best to give it a shot!

This Sunday, I'm going to take a trip to the vile, polluted, yet oddly scenic Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn. I've read that there are houseboats floating on this incredibly toxic body of water. Who would want to live surrounded by raw sewage? Some pretty interesting folks, that's for sure. And I can't help but think that the Gowanus Canal might be the perfect place to hide out if you're on the run from the law--or the seven delinquent girl geniuses who keep New York safe.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Back from Guadalajara!

As regular blog readers may already know, I was down in Mexico last week, visiting the Guadalajara Book Festival. I had an absolutely fabulous time! Having spent most of the past year in front of a computer with only my characters to keep me company, it was wonderful to get out and meet so many Eternos fans! A big thank you to my translator, Paul, for making me sound smart in Spanish--and to Pamela Martinez for a fabulous interview. (Remember that name--Pamela's going to be famous some day.) And my eternal gratitude to all the ladies and gentlemen at my Mexican publisher, Santillana/Alfaguara. Not only are you guys the best in the business, you're a lot of fun, too!

This morning I discovered an article that could come in handy the next time I'm out of town. I have no sense of direction, and the GPS on my phone isn't always reliable. So I'm going memorize these Six Ways to Never Get Lost in a City Again.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

It's Coming for You Next!

Did you ever think you'd see an octopus walk on dry land? This is a terrifying development for all of us who live near water.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! (And thanks for the link, Olivia!)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pride, Prejudice, and a Pinch of Arsenic

Jane Austen died of a mysterious illness at the age of 41. Some experts claim she died of cancer. Others insist it was Addison's Disease. Now the author of a new book is offering a rather novel theory. She believes Jane Austen may have been POISONED!

Jane is known for having had a pretty sharp tongue. Was it sharp enough to offend one of her neighbors? Sharp enough to drive that neighbor to . . . MURDER? (Okay, enough caps for now.)

The theory stems from a letter Jane penned a few months before she died. In it, she writes, "I am considerably better now and am recovering my looks a little, which have been bad enough, black and white and every wrong colour."

One of the symptoms of arsenic poisoning is discoloration of the skin, which develops unusual black and white patches. However, while the murder theory is very intriguing, accidental poisonings were quite common in Austen's day. (In the nineteenth century, even children's medicines contained powerful opiates or deadly poisons.)

But don't let my skepticism stop any sleuths out there. Prove Austen was murdered--and identify the culprit--and you'll have solved one of the greatest murder mysteries of all time!

Read more here.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sewage-Eating Microbes Have Excellent Taste (in Music)

(Above: Sewage-eaters aren't quite as cute as these guys.)

According to this article, a sewage treatment plant in Germany has found a way to make its microbes work harder. It lets them listen to music. Mozart's Magic Flute, to be specific.

While the microbes dine, music is played over a loud-speaker at the plant. Mozart-loving microbes eat more sewage, which means the plant produces more clean water and less sludge. Thanks to Mozart, the plant saved over 10,000 euros last year.

So microbes like classical music. If I think about that too much, my head might explode.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. "Scientists have developed fluorescent bacteria that encode secret messages, creating a living invisible ink." I need to lie down now.

Monday, November 14, 2011

I'm Not Sure How I Feel About This

Tokidoki Barbie. I am not a Barbie fan. Never have been. Do I like this? I DON'T KNOW! Shall we discuss?

Actually, the Byron Lars Barbie Collection does much more to address my Barbie-related issues. Some of those dolls are pretty fabulous.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Mexico, Here I Come!

I've been putting the finishing touches on my top-secret project, so I haven't had much time to blog lately! (And for all the skeptics out there, YES my top-secret project DOES exist. Ha.)

But in a few weeks, I'll be setting all of my work aside and heading down to MEXICO to promote Eternos (The Eternal Ones) and All You Desire! I can't wait! I'll post an itinerary soon, but I do know that Guadalajara will be the main stop on the tour.

So now for the subject of today's post. Like most cities, Mexico City is densely populated--and growing more crowded each year. But historic buildings can't be demolished to build new structures (thank goodness). And the law prohibits new buildings from rising any higher than eight stories above ground.

Now a team of architects believes it has found the solution. The group would like to build the world's first "earth-scraper." The sixty-five story building would be constructed beneath a major plaza in the city's historic center. A glass roof would allow natural light to reach the shops, homes, and offices on all levels of the structure.

It looks pretty amazing. (For more pictures, click here.) Of course, there are a few questions I'd want answered before I agreed to move in. (What happens if there's a fire? What if the entrances are blocked and everyone gets trapped inside? What if it's taken over by bandits and turned into a dark, dangerous Shadow City?)

If the Mexico City earth-scraper ever gets built, I'll just have to write another book so I can go down to see it. I think that book will be about the world's first earth-scraper--and how a good idea can go terribly, horribly wrong.

(Thanks for the link, Macy!)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Boffins Just Blew My Mind

Despite having extremely close links to the British community, I had never heard the term "boffin" until today. I shall be employing the word from now on, so please add it to your personal dictionaries. Ha.

But that's not the point of this post. According to this rather technical website, boffins are now able to insert 3D objects into old photographs. (Check out the website for some rather dull examples.) The results are so realistic that they'd fool any non-boffin's eyes.

If you clicked the link above, you might have watched a video with the yawn-inducing title, "Rendering Synthetic Objects into Legacy Photographs." (Those boffins sure have a way with titles!) If you didn't watch it, you should. Because this new technology is pretty darn amazing.

I started thinking about the many 3D objects I'd like to insert into old photographs. And all of the bizarre stories that might begin with a single altered photo.

In case you're wondering, this is the kind of discovery that can inspire a new book. (Not making any promises, though.)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Thou Rank, Beetle-Headed Maggot Pie!

Now you can insult your enemies and impress your English Lit teachers at the same time. All you have to do is consult this handy "Shakespeare Insult Kit!" (From blameitonthevoices.) Just make sure you know what the terms mean first. And if you get yourself in trouble, keep me out of it!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Penguins Need Sweaters!

Attention all knitters, (and I know there are quite a few of you out there), the penguins of New Zealand need sweaters! Seriously! A recent oil spill has left many of them in terrible danger. Sweaters will not only keep the little birds warm until they've recovered enough to be properly cleaned, it will also keep them from consuming the oil that's coating their feathers. (Which would make them even sicker!)

Here's how to knit a penguin sweater. And here's more information, including what to do with the sweaters when you're done!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Escape from Wonderland

(Picture from toxel.)

I've always wanted to learn how to rock climb. (Why haven't I? Hmmm. Good question.) I just wish I could find a climbing wall like this one, which was recently installed at a Tokyo fitness club. It was inspired by Alice in Wonderland and features climb holds in the shape of frames, vases, and bird cages. Very, very cool (but perhaps a little too tasteful--the designers could have gone a bit crazier if you ask me). And I gotta wonder: Is it really safe to climb in tights and a skirt?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Moustache Man

Above: Is it art? Propoganda? Vandalism? Hilarious? Let's discuss.

Until June, when he was nabbed by the NYPD after a two-month investigation (because the one of the biggest threats this city faces is Sharpie-wielding graffiti artists), Moustache Man roamed the NY subway system, altering the advertisements that line our scenic underground stations.

I happen to think that a well-drawn moustache improves most celebrity faces. However, there are many who would probably beg to differ. (The cops, the ads' owners, humorless movie stars.) But I honestly believe that Moustache Man (who took himself and his work VERY seriously) was performing a service for all humankind.

Imagine this: It's eight o'clock in the morning, and you're crammed into a metal tube with several thousand of your loudest, smelliest neighbors. You deserve a little something to take your mind off your suffering, and a baby with a moustache may be EXACTLY what you need.

I, for one, will miss the marvelous Moustache Man.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Another Explosive Subject

I usually don't like to "borrow" so liberally from other blogs, but I recently came across these two videos on one of my favorite sites, TYWKIWDBI. Maybe you're already familiar with "stick bombs," but they were new to me. (I have been living under a rock for the last year or so.)

I think I know how I'll be spending my free time for the next couple of weeks.

The first video shows a stick bomb in action. The second is a fabulous tutorial. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Yarn Bombing the Alamo

The Alamo is a huge, rotating cube in the middle of Manhattan's Astor Place. And it was just "yarn bombed" by artist Olek. According to hyperallergic, (the blog where I found the photo above by Alex Sarkesian), it has already been removed! Why?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Insanely Twisted

Apparently, the video above was too dark for Nickelodeon. (It's not gory. Just really, really weird.)

Bonus below . . . the letters and envelopes of Edward Gorey. I love envelope art. It's getting rarer and rarer these days, and I hope it doesn't become a thing of the past.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Skeleton Day!

Above: A centaur skeleton from Skulls Unlimited—the one stop shop for all of your bone-related needs. Funny, there's a similar—but deadlier—business in The Darkness Dwellers.

Above: Decorating with bones in the Sedlec Ossuary.

Above: Skeleton jewelry from Delfina Delettrez. A good thing to wear if you're out late in New York.

Above: Skull art from Katsuyo Aoki.

Above: Skeletons in the Closet, the gift store at the LA County Coroner's Office, is the greatest place on earth.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Rat Island Can Be Yours (or Mine, If You'll Lend Me a Few Hundred Thousand Dollars)!!!!

(Map borrowed from one of my favorite websites, Ephemeral New York.)

This is my dream. I'm at a cocktail party somewhere in New York. The conversation turns to the subject of vacation homes. Everyone else has a fabulous holiday pad. Do you have a second home? someone asks me. Oh, it's really just a little cottage, I reply. On my private island a few miles outside of the city. Maybe you've heard of it? It's called RAT ISLAND.

Rat Island is a two and a half acre chunk of rock in the middle of Long Island Sound. (Just north of NYC.) And I want it. It's going up for auction soon, and though it's estimated to be worth over $425,000, it may end up going for a song.

According to a NY Times article:

Much of [Rat Island's] history is lost and shrouded in folklore; the name is said to relate to prisoners, called rats, escaping from Hart Island, swimming with cardboard boxes over their heads to look like bobbing trash, but it is not clear if that is true. Legend also holds that the island was used as a so-called pest house in the 19th century to quarantine people infected with yellow fever, but Bronx and City Island historians have said that was unlikely because the city already had a quarantine hospital on Hart Island, now known as the site of the city’s potters field.

Rat Island, said to have served as an artists and writers colony, has supported at least one cottage; the remnants of a stone foundation still sit on a peak. Within its perimeter on Thursday was a lone rubber glove and a single green-and-gray Aldo men’s size 42 deck shoe with socks scrunched inside. Whether they had been discarded there or washed ashore was not entirely clear.

It sounds so lovely!!!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Verbal Pyrotechnics

They call it the BEST TEEN LITERATURE MAGAZINE ON THE PLANET, and I'm certainly not going to argue! I love the Verbal Pyrotechnics blog and magazine. They're both filled with awesome. Including an interview with me! (Subtle, right?)

The Murder Club

On the third Thursday of every month, a group of crime-solving savants from around the world gathers in Philadelphia to solve forgotten homicides. For over twenty years, the organization has been known as the Vidocq Society, and its members include forensic pathologists, police detectives, psychologists, and a forensic artist whose specialty is bringing skulls back to "life."

According to Wikipedia:

Vidocq will only consider cases that meet certain requirements: they must be unsolved deaths more than two years old, the victims cannot have been involved in criminal activity . . . and the case must be formally presented to [the Society] by the appropriate law enforcement agency. The Society does not charge for its services, and pays for the travel expenses of the law enforcement agents who come to present cases.

It sounds like something cooked up by a writer of paperback thrillers, doesn't it? But the Vidocq Society is real, and you need some serious skills if you want to join. I wonder if my superior sense of scent and my undying love for Sherlock Holmes would qualify me for membership. Doubt it.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Quickest Way to a Librarian's Heart

If you want to win over some bookish lads and ladies, I suggest making an anonymous gift to their favorite book-lending institutions. Perhaps a magnificent and mysterious paper sculpture?

That's what's been happening in Scotland. For the past year, remarkable works of art (such as those above) that have been appearing in libraries all over the country. The artist has not been identified, which is even more remarkable given the quality of his/her art!

Read more here.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I Really Think People Should Wear Pants When They Visit an Underground Park

That's right, lady. (Above.) I'm talking to you.

There are two great things about today's post. First, there's an enormous, abandoned, underground trolley station beneath Delancey Street on Manhattan's Lower East Side. That knowledge alone could make me happy for the rest of the day. But it gets even BETTER.

There are people (hopefully very well-connected people) who want to turn the space into an underground park. Click here to see a slide-show of the proposed subterranean playground.

Pretty cool. But rather optimistic, I think. The illustrations show how the park might look on sunny days. What happens during New York's dark, dismal winters, when the sun can disappear for weeks on end? What's going to be lurking in the shadows underneath Delancey Street. Woman-eating rats? Or worse?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Rookie

Remember Tavi, the teenage fashion maven? I wrote about her last year, and it seems she's been quite busy over the past twelve months. Her influential fashion blog, Style Rookie, is still going strong. And she's just started her own teen Internet magazine. It's called Rookie, and it's pretty darn amazing.

I may not belong to Tavi's target audience, but she's one of my personal heroes. She's proof of what can be accomplished with brains, confidence, and a whole lotta moxie. As you probably know by now, the world is filled with cynics and naysayers. It doesn't matter how old you are--if you're going to do something fabulous, you'll have to put on a pair of funky dark sunglasses and pretend you don't see them.

Thanks to JAY for the heads-up!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Be Your Own Bloodhound

(Above: Love the picture of the "Old Sleuth." Very creepy.)

I have an amazing nose. (Don't go Googling pictures of me. That's not what I'm talking about.) My sense of scent is incredibly powerful. How powerful? I can walk into an empty room and instantly know if a friend or acquaintance has recently been there. It's a gift that's helped me solve countless petty crimes over the years.

But today I feel a little less special. (This happens to me quite often, I'm afraid.) A recent study by scientists at Berkeley has shown that many of my fellow humans possess similar abilities. You, too, have an amazing nose. But if you want to put it to work, you'll have to risk looking a little silly.

Get down on your hands and knees. Sniff the ground. You may find you're able to track a scent all the way across a grassy field. Yes, the opportunities to use your newly-discovered superpower may be few and far between. However, according to one Yale neuroscientist, "if we go back on our four legs and get down on the ground, we may be able do things we had no idea we could do."

Interesting. Very interesting.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Terrizing Evil Rat of Spring

Don't understand the title of this post? Sigh. I do wish people would read more poetry. Click here for an explanation.

Edward The Hamster. BBC Radio4 from Craig Wilkinson on Vimeo.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Back to the Bizarre

Let's kick off a new season of blogging with a tasteful link. There. Got it out of my system. Ha.

Now for something a little more . . . dangerous. You know what's always bugged me? (To be honest, the list of things that bug me is extremely long. But let's start with a single pet peeve for now. I'll get to the rest later.) I can't stand to see an otherwise admirable female superhero or woman warrior dressed in skimpy clothes. Not that I have anything against spandex. It just doesn't offer much protection from swords, bullets, nunchaku, or medieval maces. Why oh why do most artists insist on sending their heroines into battle with so little armor? (Okay, the answer is kinda obvious. Let's move on.)

So I was thrilled to discover the website Women Fighters in Reasonable Armor. As you might imagine, the site is devoted to art that depicts women warriors in clothing that warriors MIGHT ACTUALLY WEAR. Love it. (There's a wee bit of bad language on the site. And a wee bit of blood. So don't click through if those things offend you.)

The site reminded me of the wonderful image of Kiki Strike at the top of this post. The artist sent it to me a while back, and a Facebook friend recently rediscovered it. The guy responsible for this masterpiece is not only unbelievably talented, he also gave Kiki PERFECTLY REASONABLE ARMOR. And I shall be forever grateful.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Soooo Close!

Hey everyone. I'm almost finished with my latest project, which means I'll be back to blogging full speed after Labor Day! (I promise--it has been a VERY productive summer!)

In the meantime, check out this "dark faerie tale" I wrote for the fabulous blog Dark Faerie Tales! I'm quite proud of it.

Also, a few more reviews. . .

The Eternal Ones

and All You Desire (More to come!)

Friday, August 12, 2011

And There's More!

(Art by AJ Hateley. Ms. Hateley, I'm your biggest fan.)

My second guest post at the Penguin blog!

A review and MORE from RT Book Reviews!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

All You Desire is OUT Today!!!

(Above: Yes, that's me.)

I'm going to be guest blogging on the Penguin blog this week. Check out the first installment!

And if you'd like to know even MORE about me. (And you know you do! Ha.) Have a look at my interview with the wonderful Nocturne Romance Reads!

Plus, a couple more reviews. (I swear, I'm not just linking to the good ones.)

Feathered Quill Book Reviews

Lost in Believing Blog

Sunday, August 7, 2011

All You Desire is Out This Week!

Hi there! Another quick update on All You Desire, which has been chosen as the latest "Summer Beach Read" by Seventeen Magazine!

And here are links to a couple of reviews:

The Book Mermaid

I Like These Books

My Bookish Fairy Tale

And readers in Mexico should visit The Itzel Library for news about Eternos giveaways and a virtual tour of All You Desire!

There will be more to come this week! (And if there are any bloggers out there who'd like me to link to their reviews, please send me a note!)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Bavaria's Mysterious Underground Chambers

From Der Spiegel (thx, anonymous):

There are more than 700 curious tunnel networks in Bavaria, but their purpose remains a mystery. Were they built as graves for the souls of the dead, as ritual spaces or as hideaways from marauding bandits? Archeologists are now exploring the subterranean vaults to unravel their secrets.

Wow. Just WOW. Check out the article and pictures here!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Let's Chat

Wow. I've been gone a while, right? I figured I should check in just to let you know that I haven't been sitting on my rump watching Bigfoot shows on television. (OK, I have watched a couple.)

So here's what's going on . . . First of all, The Eternal Ones has a fabulous new website. Gorgeous, isn't it? As you know, the first book in the series is out in paperback right now. And the sequel, All You Desire, will be in stores AUGUST 9th! I'm really proud of both books, but I do have a soft spot for the sequel. And I've been getting some wonderful feedback. So have a read and let me know what you think!

I've also been hard at work on my new, super-secret project. (Which I love, love, love!) It should be finished by the end of August. Then I will resume blogging with gusto. I've been keeping track of all the bizarre things that are happening around the world. And let's just say we're going to have a lot to discuss!

I also have some Kiki Strike news. The Darkness Dwellers is finished. And it is, in my humble opinion, the best of the bunch. Unfortunately, it won't be in stores until late next year. That's right. Fall 2012. It wasn't my decision, but there is a good reason for the delay. (My publisher is planning something special for all three books.) But I know a lot of you have been waiting A VERY LONG TIME for Book #3.

So I'm going to make you a promise right here and now. You will be hearing from Ananka, Kiki, and the Irregulars soon. There's a certain adventure that they're eager to share. And they refuse to wait another year.

Ghoulish, but AWESOME

You never know when you might stumble across a crime scene. Fortunately, I recently came across a handy guide to blood-splatter analysis that I intend to keep in my wallet at all times.

Ordinarily, I would embed the image in a post, but it might be a little ghoulish for some of you. (It's not really that gross, but I know some people are sensitive.) But if you're planning a career in forensic nursing, police work, or crime, you should definitely click HERE!

So You Want to Be a Writer

Have a look at author Molly Backes's wonderful response to the mother of a teenage girl who wants to be a writer. I can identify with every point.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Eternal Ones is Out in Paperback!

The very best thing about paperbacks? They're easy to read in the bathtub!

Next month . . . All You Desire! (There was a little confusion surrounding the pub date, but it's still in August!)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Two Suspects in My Ghost Hunt

Okay, so I've taken your advice, and I've done a little research on the history of my building. So far, I have two potential ghosts:

1. Claudius, who died in my house in 1893.
2. Blanche, who died here in 1915.

It's also quite possible that Claudius's wife, Ann, may have died here as well.

But I haven't uncovered any evidence that either of my suspects died violently. They were both quite old when they passed away. But who knows? Maybe one of them wasn't ready to go!

I'm going to keep searching. I'll report back to you soon!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Book News!

This is pretty amazing. I recently did an interview with the online book magazine, Requiem de Libros. What a cool site! Take a look, and be sure to check out my interview on pages 15-17. Thanks to everyone at Requiem de Libros!

And Pamela, one of my Facebook friends, has started an Eternos-themed blog! Have a look at the amazing pendant you get if you order the book in Mexico. (I borrowed the pic from Pamela's blog.) Thanks, Pamela!

Last but not least, you may notice that my blogging has become a bit . . . irregular. (HA) I'm hard at work on a new project, and I'm so unbelievably inspired that it's hard to pull myself away sometimes! But I am still here, and the project will be finished soon, so don't go away!

I'm also going to be working on something very SPECIAL for Kiki Strike fans. Something handy. Something dangerous (in the right way, of course). You're going to like it. And that's all I'm going to say!!!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Interview with the Itzel Library

All I needed was one look at the Itzel Library blog to know that I'd found some kindred spirits. (You'll see what I mean.) So when I was invited to chat with the fabulous, mysterious YEL, I seized the opportunity.

Here's my interview, in both Spanish and English! Thanks, Yel!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Hello, Mexico!

A couple of days ago, I found out that The Eternal Ones is VERY popular in Mexico. I love it when one of my books receives a warm welcome in another country, but Mexico happens to be one of my favorite places on earth. (Not to mention the country where I saw THE MOST AMAZING THING EVER.) So this time, I'm absolutely thrilled.

Maybe the book's popularity has something to do with the awesome Spanish title . . . Eternos. Who wouldn't want to read a book called Eternos? Or maybe it has something to do with the mysterious videos and newspaper ads that have popped up around the country . . .

Whatever the case, I'm ecstatic. And I hope Eterno's Mexican readers stop by Bank St. Irregular to say hello! And all of you Spanish speakers out there should definitely pay a visit to the Eternos Facebook page. I'm going to be giving away signed copies of the book soon!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Ghost Update

The weather was terrible in New York yesterday, so I spent the afternoon indoors watching a marathon of the super-cheesy, but highly-entertaining show Hauntings. (Yes, I know. I should be doing more with my spare time.)

Anyway, the show reminded me that I haven't shared my latest ghostly experience with you.

If you've been reading my blogs, you already know that there's a ghost in my house. I haven't actually seen her (as previous occupants have), but I know she's here.

About a month ago, I was cooking dinner. Garlic was involved. I stepped out of the kitchen for a moment to set the table in the nearby dining room. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something come flying through the kitchen door. Then I felt it hit me--right on the butt. I looked down, and there was a garlic clove lying on the floor of the dining room.

There was no one else around. The rest of the garlic was still sitting on the counter where I'd left it. In order to whack me on the butt, the clove in question had somehow managed to pick itself up, turn a corner, and fly approximately twenty feet.

I was surprised, but I wasn't frightened. It actually seemed pretty funny at the time. I'd like to know more about my ghost, but I don't want to tick her off. Ouija boards seem rather silly and impersonal. Any suggestions for making contact?

Friday, June 10, 2011

How to Stay Creative

One of the questions I'm often asked is: What's the best way to overcome writer's block. As I recently said in an interview (which you can check out here), I don't believe in writer's block. (When was the last time you heard a doctor say she had "doctor's block?") However, I'll admit that there are times when I feel rather uninspired.

This afternoon, I found the video posted below. It offers "29 Ways to Stay Creative." The tips may seem unbelievably simple, but I know from experience that they work.

I'm particularly fond of #23: READ A (RANDOM) PAGE FROM THE DICTIONARY. Why? Allow me to explain. In my opinion, the Internet has one very serious downside. (No, I'm not talking about people who review books that they couldn't POSSIBLY have read unless they somehow managed to hack into my computer. And no, I don't think anyone has hacked my computer.)

The problem with the Internet is that it gives us exactly what we want. Lots of sites are designed to remember our past purchases and spit out a list of books, music, and products that we're likely to enjoy. So it's easy to get stuck in a rut--reading the same kind of books, listening to the same kind of music, buying the same stuff that we've bought in the past.

This isn't the way to be (or stay) creative. More often than not, inspiration comes from new, different, and surprising experiences. Go to the library and find a section you've never explored. Listen for strange new songs as you walk down the street. Visit a part of town that you've never seen before. Flip through the dictionary and find an unfamiliar word. Do something completely random.

You never know what's going to provide the inspiration you're seeking. And that's the whole point. You never know. But it probably won't be something you do every day. Otherwise, you'd be inspired already.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Manhattan's Secret Magic Library

CH Presents: The Conjuring Arts Research Center from Cool Hunting on Vimeo.

Hidden somewhere on the island of Manhattan is a library with over 12,000 books on the subject of magic. If you can find it, you're welcome to visit.

This is just the sort of place Ananka Fishbein would stumble across. Don't you think? On a personal note, I'd love to take a peek at the book Valuable Secrets. What kind of secrets, I wonder? And how valuable are they?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Congratulations to Our Winners!

(Above: Art by Ray Ceasar)

Finalists 3 & 4 are the winners! But I would have been thrilled if All You Desire had ended up with any of these covers. So you're all winners to me! (Isn't that sweet?)

Another talented artist has asked me to post her entry, so have a look below!

I'm going to be working on a secret project until June 10th, so I won't be able to blog for the next week. But please meet me here on June 11th, and we'll take another trip into the bizarre.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Here Are the 5 Finalists & 1 Honorable Mention!

Once again, I was absolutely blown away by your talent and creativity. You guys all deserve to be finalists. And if I had more than 2 ARCs to give away, I would send one to every person who entered. There was not a single entry that wasn't new, different, and eye-catching.

Alas, we can only have five finalists. Choosing them was one of the most difficult tasks I've ever been given. If your cover is not one of the finalists, and you would like me to post it on the blog, just send me a note. Once the blog readers choose two winners, I will be happy to share other entries!

So here's how this works. Look for the poll on the upper right side of this blog, and choose the cover you like best. Feel free to vote for yourself, but please . . . ONE VOTE PER PERSON. And as always, only regular blog readers are allowed to vote. Please do not ask your grandma to vote for you. (Unless she's a reader of the blog!)

You have twenty-four hours to place your vote. VOTING WILL END AT 9:00 AM (NY TIME), JUNE 4th!

The two covers with the most votes will each win an ARC of All You Desire! Good luck to all the finalists!!!

Finalist #1

Why was it chosen? I think it goes without saying. Simply amazing. The detail, the artistry, the colors. I'm awestruck.

Finalist #2

Why was it chosen? I love the simplicity of this cover. The silhouettes communicate everything . . . true love, destiny, and danger. Brilliant.

Finalist #3

Why was it chosen? It's gorgeous for starters, and I love the 1920s-style silhouettes. Two touches I really appreciated . . . the figure spying on the couple and the Snake Goddess on the Greek vase. Very cool.

Finalist #4

Why was it chosen? The colors are arresting, and the design is both simple and lovely. The symbol in the center is another symbol of eternity. (As you recall, I didn't insist that entries use an ouroboros.) I would definitely pick up this book if I saw it in a bookstore.

Finalist #5

Why was it chosen? It seems simple at first glance, but there's so much hidden in this image. Haven's ouroboros armlet. The snakes slithering out of the heart. And I think it really captures how it feels to fall in love, when you're not quite sure if you're floating or sinking. It makes me happy just looking at this cover.

Honorable Mention:

Why did this entry receive an honorable mention? It would have been a finalist, perhaps even a winner. But I'm afraid it's for the wrong book! However, that doesn't make this entry any less brilliant. I would have been thrilled if this had been the cover of The Eternal Ones!