Kidlit Critterpalooza WINNERS!

Wow, it's hard to believe Kidlit Critterpalooza is coming to a close. Talk about the giveaway of the century!

It was a super fun ride, but after all that partying, CRITTER decided he needed to chillax, so he hit the hot tub with an ice-cold glass of cherry Kool-aid (his fav).

Now, after a soak and a good night's sleep, he's all revved up to get to the best part of a giveaway...

KIDLIT CRITTERPALOOZA WINNERS!

Melissa Higgins—a Writer’s Kit (chocolate, journal, gift card & 8X10 photo of Critter--winner's choice!)

PJ Hoover—a Forgotten Worlds set & a ten page critique
~~Francesca Amendolia~~


Beth Revis—a query critique
~~All the Real Numbers Symbol~~


Tina Ferraro—a copy of Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress, How to Hook a Hottie, and The ABC's of Kissing Boys (all signed).
~~Beth Pollock~~


Cynthia Willis—a copy of Dog Gone (paperback) & Buck Fever (hardcover) (signed & personalized)
~~Lois Moss~~


Bish Denham—a beautiful hand-made tatted dolphin bookmark
~~Jenn Soehnlin~~


Nandini Bajpai--a copy of Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book (signed)
~~Marcia Muscarella~~


Jacqui Robbins--a copy of Two of a Kind (signed)
~~Shannon O'Donnell~~


Christina Farley--a Chocolate Fun Pack (decadent chocolates & hot chocolates, copy of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) + a 10 page critique
~~Llehn~~


Rena Jones—a copy of A new Job for Dilly (signed)
~~Beck Nicholas~~


Kelly PolarkPoetry Pack (Poetrees by Douglas Florian & Stampede: Poems to Celebrate the Wild Side of School + signed bookplate)
~~Jamie Dement~~

Jill S Alexander—copy of Sweetheart (hardcover) ~~Sarah Nicolas~~

Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi—an Art Compilations Book by Robert Bateman (signed), a $15 Starbucks Gift Card a & 1st chapter critique (Becca)
~~Deven Av ila~~

Christy Evers—a $50 Amazon Gift Card
~~Katie Fitzgerald~~


Ellen Oh--a Korean Gift Box ( YA book + treats with a Korean flair!) ~~Katrina Lantz~~


Ian Sands—your very own CRITTER and a Critter-interactive-art-book (signed). ~~Lenny Lee~~

And finally, WINNER of the Career-Boosting GRAND PRIZE: a PERSONAL, 45 MINUTE SKYPE or IM CHAT with authors Beth Revis (YA, Across the Universe), PJ Hoover (MG Forgotten Worlds Trilogy) & Jacqui Robbins (PB, The New Girl and Me, Two of a Kind)
~~Kate Haggard~~

Congrats to everyone who won, and a HUGE thanks to all these generous past hosts for their contributions to CRITTERPALOOZA! If you are a winner, keep an eye on your inbox for a message from me with further instruction (and remember to check your SPAM in case I get stuck in there.)

Critter thanks everyone who helped him spread the word about his mission to help St Judes Children's Research Hospital, and all the kind donations. It's been a whirlwind trip around the world, and he's looking forward to going back home to Christy Ever's place.

Remember, very soon CRITTER will be up for auction to raise even more money for St. Jude's. If you would like to own this one-of-a-kind piece of author memorabilia, you can contact Christy and she'll make sure to let you know when his auction will take place!

Contest Closed!

Kidlit Critterpalooza is now closed!

Good luck to all who entered! Winners will be announced tomorrow, so stay tuned.

Last Chance to WIN BIG!

It's CRITTERPALOOZA! Help Critter celebrate his trip around the world!

17 fabulous prizes are yours for the taking, including signed YA novels, Gift Cards, Critiques and a chance to have a private 45 minute chat with 3 published authors about anything writing or publishing. This is a great chance to really boost your writing career!

Contest ends soon: Sunday (Nov 28th) afternoon, so don't miss out! Check THIS out for full contest details, a list of all the prizes up for grabs and your entry form.

Symbolism Thesaurus Entry: Beauty

~~HAPPY THANKSGIVING, MUSERS!~~

Every day we interact with objects, places and sensations that affect the way we think and feel. This can be used to the writer's advantage by planting symbols in the reader's path to reinforce a specific message, feeling or idea.

Look at the setting and the character's state of mind, and then think about what you want the reader to see. Is there a descriptive symbol or two that works naturally within the scene to help foreshadow an event or theme, or create insight into the character's emotional plight?

Obviously, beauty is subjective. But to make one's point in a written passage, an author should choose symbols that appeal to the largest audience possible. Because of this, today's entry will focus on symbols that are more universal.

In Nature:
A rose
Other flowers
Peacocks
A horse in motion
Butterflies
A picturesque view
A tropical paradise
Wildflower meadows
Mountain valleys
A private beach
Waterfalls
Rainbows
Sunrises/sunsets
Sun shining through clouds
Sun on water
A flawless gem
The human body

In Society:
Mirrors
A pretty face
Long, thick hair
Slender legs
Full lips
Long lashes
A curvy silhouette
Pageant crowns/sashes
Princesses in general
Geishas
Aphrodite
Snow White
Beauty (and the Beast)
Grace Kelly
Magazine covers
A fashion show
Supermodels
Brides
Gowns
Beauty marks
A beauty shop
Makeup
The Sistine Chapel
Michelangelo's David
Perfect symmetry

These are just a few examples of things one might associate with Beauty. Some are more powerful than others. A red rose is a strong symbol, and likely will not require reinforcement. However, a tropical paradise might stand for a number of things (isolation, exoticism, tranquility) and may not exemplify beauty on its own. Let the story's tone decide if one strong symbol or several smaller ones work the best.

Guest Post at Writer on the Side

Hey people! I've been working on a post idea that's near and dear to my heart, but since Critterpalooza is still going strong and the cause is too good to be derailed, I've decided to accept Stasia Kehoe's gracious offer and post as a guest on her blog, Writer on the Side.

Stasia is like a lot of us: a writer who's also a parent, a spouse, a [fill in the blank]. And yet she's still managed to reach that magical publication goal we all dream of (her first book, Audition, hits the shelves in 2011). She gives me hope that despite my varied responsibilities, I can do the same. So if you're struggling with balance in your crazy writing world, head on over and check out today's post, along with the rest of Stasia's awesome blog.

Also, check out Angela's guest post over at Operation Awesome for a little road trip through that scary place called her brain, find out why she likes zombies, what she has to say about querying and lots more. 


Oh, and then commence with the Critter shenanigans! 17 prizes to be won, so get in on this awesome contest!

KIDLIT CRITTERPALOOZA!

 Critter lunching w/ Calgary Blueboarders
First off, I have to say what an honor it's been to host CRITTER here in my home in Calgary, Alberta, and on The Bookshelf Muse. CRITTER, for those of you just tuning in, is the art creation of Ian Sands and belongs to Christy Evers, who has sent him all over the world to visit KIDLIT writer/bloggers.

Critter's been on a road trip now for over 14 months, collecting the names of his hosts along the way, and will soon return to Christy's home in Morrisville, NC to be auctioned off as author memorabilia, with the proceeds going to St. Jude's.

As a MASCOT for the KIDLIT world, Critter has enjoyed the hospitality of our writing community, promoting creativity and raising awareness for St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital.
Robert Bateman signs Critter, too!

 You might have seen him at the LA SCBWI conference, crowd surfing at a rock concert, heading off to college, hanging out at Bluebeard's castle, being interviewed by the Texas Sweethearts, visiting the Gyeongbokgung Palace, or even meeting world renowned artist Robert Bateman. It's been quite the ride, and now Critter's ready to celebrate!

As his last stop here in Canada, it's up to me to send him off in style. And so, after we bought some new toques, ate some poutine and went moose-watching, we decided the best way to go out with a bang was by hosting a 
TITANIC  
 KIDLIT CRITTERPALOOZA  
 GIVEAWAY!

Critter's rubbed shoulders with both Famous and soon-to-be Famous personalities in this industry, and he's seen first hand how generous writers are. Take a look at these INCREDIBLE prizes you could win from some of his past hosts!

Melissa Higgins—a Writer’s Kit (chocolate, journal, gift card & 8X10 photo of Critter)
PJ Hoover—a Forgotten Worlds set & a ten page critique
Beth Revis—a query critique
Tina Ferraro—a copy of Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress, How to Hook a Hottie, and The ABC's of Kissing Boys (all signed).
Cynthia Willis—a copy of Dog Gone (paperback) & Buck Fever (hardcover) (signed & personalized)
Bish Denham—a beautiful hand-made tatted dolphin bookmark
Nandini Bajpai--a copy of Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book (signed)
Jacqui Robbins--a copy of Two of a Kind (signed)
Christina Farley--a Chocolate Fun Pack (decadent chocolates & hot chocolates, copy of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) + a 10 page critique
Rena Jones—a copy of A new Job for Dilly (signed)
Kelly PolarkPoetry Pack (Poetrees by Douglas Florian & Stampede: Poems to Celebrate the Wild Side of School + signed bookplate)
Jill S Alexander—copy of Sweetheart (hardcover)
Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi—an Art Compilations Book by Robert Bateman (signed), a $15 Starbucks Gift Card a & 1st chapter critique (Becca)
Christy Evers—a $50 Amazon Gift Card
Ellen Oh--a Korean Gift Box ( YA book + treats with a Korean flair!)
Ian Sands—your very own CRITTER and a Critter-interactive-art-book (signed).

And then, if this isn't enough, there's also a Career-Boosting GRAND PRIZE: a PERSONAL, 45 MINUTE SKYPE or IM CHAT with authors Beth Revis (YA, Across the Universe), PJ Hoover (MG Forgotten Worlds Trilogy) & Jacqui Robbins (PB, The New Girl and Me, Two of a Kind) where the winner can collectively pick the brains of these pros about writing, publishing and the current marketplace, learning valuable information to help them succeed.

Does this BLOW YOUR MIND, or what? 
~~~
HOW TO WIN ONE OF THESE 17 SPECTACULAR PRIZES:

--Check out some of Critter's past hosts using the links above (each will take you to one or more critter posts). If you'd like to go in order, you can find each stop here in Christy's sidebar.

--Make note of 3 things Critter did with 3 different hosts.

--Fill OUT THIS FORM.

--Pass on the word about KIDLIT CRITTERPALOOZA (TWEETS, BLOG POSTS, ETC) We want the world to know about Critter and his mission to help St. Jude.
Yep, it's that easy. :)
One of Critter's passions is the St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital. If you would like to donate a few dollars to this worthy charity, you can by clicking on the St Jude's button to the right. Every dollar is appreciated and helps to save the lives of children, and all of us involved in CRITTERPALOOZA really appreciate the support!


Contest runs until Sunday afternoon, November 28th. Winners will be announced on Monday, November 29th. 

With Our Thanks!

 The Bookshelf Muse reached 300,000 hits today! HUZZAH!

We've been blessed to see a explosion of growth this last 6 months, and Becca and I are so grateful to all the writers and educators who visit, comment and spread the word. I know starting/maintaining a blog can seem like a daunting task, but keep at it! Becca and I started ours with an idea and a desire to share with other writers. It can be done :)

So, go on and splurge on your bad 'ol self, 'cause you guys are the best supporters ever and totally deserve all good things in this world! :) Thank you many, many times over!

 Don't forget, Thursday we're launching KIDLIT CRITTERPALOOZA!    There will be some AMAZING prizes to be won, including one grand prize that is pure GOLD to any writer on the publication track!

Critter is FAMOUS!

We had another exciting few days with Critter. Because of all the amazing authors and writers Critter's met on his trip round the world, I knew Critter would absolutely love to meet world-famous naturalist artist, Robert Bateman.

So, when hubby and I went to a dinner event with him, of course Critter came along. Now I figured he might be a bit nervous meeting someone who is probably one of the most well-know artists of our time, but Critter played it cool. I guess he's used to artists, being the creation of Ian Sands and all.

Robert loved Critter's story about his trip around the world to promote creativity and raise money for charity. A strong environmentalist and philanthropist, he could see why Critter's mission was so important. Robert has his own mission, and will be soon opening the Robert Bateman Center for Art and Environmental Education, which will showcase art as a forum for raising awareness and increasing knowledge about environmental issues.

There was one moment when Critter squealed like a little girl...when Robert Bateman signed him, too! What an HONOR!

Naturally, after meeting such a passionate and giving personality, Critter wanted to do something good for others. He's hoping to raise money for St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital soon when he's auctioned off to a new owner, but for now, he helped us put together a care package for an orphanage in Tanzania, Africa, which my family and I recently visited this summer.

After all that hard work, it was off to the Cheesecake Cafe to meet local Blue Boarders Kidlit writers (front, left to right) Brenda Johnson, Janet Gurtler, Linda Duddridge  and (back, left to right)
Deb Marshall, Leslie Carmichael & Stina Lindenblatt.

We talked shop, discussed books...and of course, ate some Rolo cheesecake. Another first for Critter!

It was a pretty busy couple of days. Now Critter's hard at work on a secret event called Kidlit Critterpalooza. Watch for an announcement in the coming days, because it's an event YOU are invited to, filled with UNBELIEVABLE PRIZES to be won. You will not want to miss it!

Setting Thesaurus Entry: Medieval Castle Armory

Sight

Flagstone floor, stone block walls, thick, reinforced wooden door, narrow slit windows high on wall, castle banners and colors, candles or lanterns for a light source, racks with weapons of the era: sharpened spears, poleaxe, polearm, halberd, tables holding spiked maces, flails, clubs & mauls, swords fanned out on wall displays (short, long, broad & claymore), bins of arrows, stacks of unstrung bows, bowstrings, quivers, crossbows, bolts, stands & suits of armour, chain mail, banded mail, leather undershirts, shields with a crest or coat of arms, helms, helmets, gauntlets, throwing knives, ceremonial armour, barrels of oil, explosives, cannon balls, shot, pistols, leather sheathes, oilcloth, chains to hoist heavy armour, horse plate, an adjoining crafting area where weapons and armor are maintained (granite grinding stone, anvil, sheets of steel, forge, craftsmen, apprentices, flying sparks, white granite dust on floor near sharpening wheel, red hot metal, hooks, hammers, tongs, barrels of water for quenching), soldiers

Sounds

The clink of metal, hammer on steel, the hiss of steam, crackle of flame, the grinding rasp of metal against the granite sharpening wheel, chain links clinking, creaks, scrapes, the quiet crumple sound of leather creasing, heavy boots against the stone floor, grunts, steel sliding into a scabbard, stampeding footsteps as soldiers rush in, shouts, cries, slamming the flat of a blade against a shield to gather every one's attention, wooden handles/staffs shifting against each other, wooden poles grounding against the floor in a solid tock, orders being yelled out, call to arms

Smells

The tang of metal, smoke, oils, leather, cold stone, wax, gunpowder, soot, blood, polished wood, sweat

Tastes

Sweat, dust

Touch

Leather-wrapped sword handle against palm, the drag of a shield and armour on shoulders and arms, the burn of chafing leather against skin, the pull of a chain mail shirt, curling fingers around a smooth pole weapon, testing the edge of a blade for sharpness with thumb or finger, the press of bodies, bumping/nudging against other soldiers, a painful burn from a careless spark at the grinding wheel, slinging a quiver over the shoulder, using pressure to bend a bow and string it, running a finger through the feather fletching, holding a bolt or arrow shaft up to check for warping or flaws, pulling on gauntlets, sliding helm over head, squinting to peer through the helm slit or swinging the visor open, tightening scabbard belt around waist, widening stance and bracing for the weight of chest plate, moving arms to make sure joints are well-oiled and there are no obstructions to movement, pulling a weapon from the wall or rack, sorting through a pile of weapons or helmets for a sharp blade or sturdy fit, sweat sliding down face, neck and back from the heat, hefting the shield on arm, taking armour pieces to the craftsmen for last minute adjustments, collecting shot into sacks

Helpful hints:


--The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.

Example 1:

Edmond raced into the armoury, following the acrid scent in the air straight to the four casks of oil sitting along the far wall. The squire rubbed at his watering eyes, debating on how to best transport them and then heaved the first into his arms. Rolling the casks across to the doorway would save his energy for the stair climb to the castle walls, but the uneven flagstones might weaken the seal on the barrel. He dare not risk it. A fire here would not only claim his life, it would write the ending to the war.

Example 2:

The armory walls shook, rattling the racks of polarms and filling the air with dust. The truth behind the blast chafed Lord Fadelin like ill-fitted armour--his party of soldiers had failed to sabotage their enemy's trebouchet. Another hit, maybe two, and the walls would collapse.

--Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.

Example 1: (Simile)

At the far end of the armoury, a dozen halberds waited in a wooden rack like soldiers eager for battle.

Example 2: (Metaphor)

As enemies hacked at the bolted armoury door, fear slipped down Amos' back in burning trails, setting fire to the raw skin beneath his chain mail shirt.

Symbolism Thesaurus Entry: Sacrifice

Every day we encounter objects, places and sensations that affect the way we think and feel. Writers can use this to our advantage when we plant symbols in the reader's path that reinforce a specific message, feeling or idea.

Look at the setting and the character's state of mind, then think about what you want the reader to see. Is there a descriptive symbol or two that works naturally within the scene to help foreshadow an event or theme, or create insight into the character's emotional plight?

In Nature:
  • An animal giving its life to protect its young from attack
  • the male emperor penguin: withstands brutal polar storms for four months and loses half its body weight while caring for its egg
  • Dolphins: when a pregnant dolphin goes into labor, the rest of the dolphins put themselves at risk by surrounding her to protect her from sharks while she gives birth
  • Spiders: In some species, the mother will surrender her body to her hatchlings to be eaten. The process is called matriphagy.

In Society:
A cross/crucifix
Altar
Lamb
Blood
Giving a child up for adoption
Being a surrogate mother for no financial gain
A parent going without so their child can succeed
Donating an organ
Donating blood
Delayed gratification
Military medals
Remembrance/Veteran's Day
Military graves

Memorials
Jesus
Mother Teresa
Oskar Schindler
William Wallace
Giving school lunch to someone with none
Offering coat to someone who is cold
Charities/donations
Volunteer work
Mothers/women
Fasting
Poppy pins

These are just a few examples of things one might associate with
Sacrifice. Some are more powerful than others. An ancient altar is a strong symbol, and likely will not require reinforcement. However, a Medal of Honor might stand for a number of different things (courage, brotherhood, loyalty) and may not exemplify sacrifice on its own. Let the story's tone decide if one strong symbol or several smaller ones work the best.

Across the World Book Tour for Across the Universe

And now for some MORE wickedness here at The Bookshelf Muse! What novel is one of the most anticipated releases of its time? What novel is being touted as 'The Hunger Games for Sci-Fi' as breakout fiction? You better believe we're talking about ACROSS THE UNIVERSE!

Across the Universe is a sci fi coming out from Penguin/Razorbill on January 11, 2011. Author Beth Revis describes it as "a murder mystery set in space," but it also has romance, adventure, and dystopian elements. In the book, a girl boards an interstellar spaceship in a journey across the universe to find a new planet.

To celebrate the book's upcoming release, Beth's gathered together writers and readers from across the blogosphere to share their stories of adventures they've had across the world. Check out her site the first two weeks of November to read about adventures from the Wild West to Indonesia, from Europe to Africa. Today, I'm guest posting about my recent trip to AFRICA, where I share several videos of the trip!

And as you're going across the world with all these adventures, be sure to pick up the clues. On Beth's webpage is a secret link--LOOK for it, and you'll SEE it. But it's password protected! To find the password, you'll need to go on the adventures with us, pick up the letters, and re-arrange them into the secret phrase.

What do you get for playing? On the password protected page there's tons of secret information about the book--hidden Easter Eggs, the surprising origins of one of the characters, and the unexpected inspiration behind the space ship. But, more than that--there's also a chance for prizes! Only accessible from the password protected page is a form to enter a drawing--the winner will get a signed and doodled ARC of Across the Universe, pin-buttons featuring the book, star-related swag--and a secret something else!



All you have to do is follow us across the blogosphere, pick up the letters, and unscramble the password! Your clue for today is...

E

Setting Thesaurus Entry: Secret Genetic Engineering Lab

This post has been generously written by PJ Hoover, author (and Texas Sweetheart!) of the Forgotten Worlds Trilogy, a mythology adventure for middle graders. The exciting final book, THE NECROPOLIS is available now from CBAY Books!

The situation in Lemuria is rapidly deteriorating. In fact teleportation between the hidden continent and the outside world has become so dangerous, all agents and their families have been recalled.

Although Benjamin is psyched to be living in Lemuria full time, he knows he needs to find his last brother soon. However, between classes, a murderous half-brother, and complications with his friend Heidi, Benjamin can barely focus. Besides, there’s only one place left they haven’t searched—the hidden continent of Atlantis.


Setting Notes from PJ: When I chose the setting of a secret genetic engineering lab, in no way did I plan to duplicate the efforts already done for “Laboratory”. That list is awesome and comprehensive and a definite go-to for the standard lab.

But what sets apart a secret lab? And what about one where secret genetic engineering experiments have been going on? That’s what I’m going to focus on.

Sight

Retinal scanners, LEDs, test tubes, high tech note-taking equipment of choice (for THE NECROPOLIS, it’s the Thought Cache), secret levels, elevator doors, Bunsen burners, frustrated lab workers, coffee cups scattered around, snack containers, overflowing trash can, mutated creatures in various stages of development, glass specimen jars of all sizes, stainless steel (counters, cabinets), lab coats, labels, rooms with hidden entry.

Also, don’t be afraid to explore the darker elements of genetic engineering: bald heads, hair follicles covering skin, webbed fingers and toes, undeveloped features, flippers, green skin (or any color of choice), full-size bodies stored in gel, empty eyes staring back

Sound

Doors whooshing open, glass clinking, centrifuges (for stirring), hum of humidifiers, test tubes dropping, bickering between lab techs, scraping of animal claws on cages

Smell

Lab chemicals; formaldehyde (lots and lots of formaldehyde); cleaners; recycled, clean air; Strong coffee

Taste

Acid. Base, Salt in air, any snack of choice (be it jellybeans or peanuts), coffee (or drink of choice, even Amoeba Juice)

Touch

Slimy experiments, cold tables, hard tile underfoot, chilly air, glass jars under fingers, cold of refrigerator/freezer used for storage


Helpful Hints:

--The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.

Example 1:

“Are you leading us to Hell?” Benjamin asked as the halls seemed to spiral and loop back on themselves. How did anyone keep their sense of direction down here?

"It’s just around the corner,” Jack said.  And he teleported them into a room the size of a large cafeteria. “This is the stuff they don’t teach in Genetic Engineering 101.”

Example 2:

Benjamin, Heidi, and Cory gave them the short version. The really short version. It was obvious from Gary’s continued fiddling with the test tubes that he and Aurora had something else on their minds.

-- Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.

Simile:

Andy grimaced like he’d just taken a huge sip of Amoeba Juice. “No way. I’ve spent way too much time in there.”

Iva sighed. “It’s not that bad, Andy.” She headed back, grabbed his hand, and dragged him through the door.

“It’s horrible,” Andy said. “All we’ve done for the last two weeks is watch Gary and Aurora compare test tubes. ‘Oh, this one looks green’,” he mimicked. “‘Oh, this one looks green and slimy.’ ‘Oh, and look at this one—it’s green and slimy and chunky.’”

Benjamin laughed because…well…it sounded just like Gary and Aurora.

Metaphor:

Benjamin felt the truth as sure as he knew he had ten toes.

Halloween, Critter Style

Let me tell you, having Critter around to celebrate Halloween was nothing short of EPIC. It all started when I found him trying to body surf across the candy bowl.

Well, the truth came out pretty quick: Critter has NEVER been trick-or-treating. Can you believe it?

So of course, I had to do something about it. And my kids. Together we dashed through the house, searching for suitable costumes. Hubby stood by and muttered something about us not being quite right in the head, but I'm sure I misheard.

There were some challenges. Like, erm, Critter's unique triangular shape.

First we went for the mummy look--we figured it would work awesome with his stiff walk. But after he was all good to go, my kids and I agreed...Critter looked too cute to be scary.

Maybe we were going about this all wrong! Critter's in Canada, after all, and so what's more Canadian than Hockey? So, we turned him into a Calgary Flame!

But as soon as Critter put on his jersey, he wanted to hit the ice, not go trick-or-treaking! And of course that would never do.

So, Darian, Jarod and I put our heads together and twisted our brains around the problem. Maybe we ate some candy. Okay, okay...a LOT of candy.

We wanted something unique. Something crazy. Something totally bizarre that only the Ackerman family would think of.

And then finally, WE HAD IT! The PERFECT costume, build for his shape, light weight and even better, something that comes straight from one of my books!


We turned Critter into a tree-shaped air freshener. Doesn't he look cute?

(So now you're wondering why I wrote a book about a tree-shaped air freshener, aren't you?)

Actually the book was about zombie janitors who wore air fresheners to keep them 'fresh'. Because you know, I'm weird like that.

Anyway, with his costume picked out, his loot bag at the ready, we hit the streets. As you can see, Critter got himself a pretty good haul.

Want to know more about CRITTER and his mission to promote creativity across the world and raise money for St. Jude's? Check out this Post!

Stay tuned for more Critter adventures!

Reintroducing My Partner in Crime

I alluded to some big stuff happening at The Bookshelf Muse, and I'm happy to reveal one of those things: Becca Puglisi is BACK.

Some of you know exactly who I'm talking about while others may be scratching your heads. Becca, you see, is the co-creator of this blog, best crit partner evar and one of the most talented writers I know.

Two years back she decided to start a family, so she took a break from writing and stepped away from the blog. I am beyond ecstatic to see her return, because Becca is full of great ideas and creative energy, and has as much passion for writing as I do.

Here's a small Q & A to introduce Becca to newer Musers who may not remember her.

1) Tell us a bit about yourself!

Becca: I started writing in 2004, about the same time as Angela, but I took off a few years to have babies. Now I'm back to writing mostly YA fantasy and historical fiction. With two small children at home, I've also got a few picture books in my bag o' tricks. When I'm not writing, I like to read, bake, watch movies with my shmoopie, and eat things that are bad for me. I like to garden but can't add it to my list because that would imply I could actually grow something. So not true.

2) What led you to jump back into writing again?

BECCA: I had always hoped to come back to writing when my kids were a little older. When my son turned six months old and I knew I was done raising newborns (ie, was no longer sleep-deprived) it occurred to me that I once again might be capable of stringing together a coherent creative thought. So in I jumped.

3) Are you glad to be back on the blog? Did you miss us?

BECCA: I did miss everyone. Tuning in was somewhat painful because I missed being involved in the writing community. I felt like that kid with his fat little face mashed against the chain-link fence watching everyone else play. Now that my self-imposed writing exile is over, I'm totally stoked to be back. Angela, on the other hand, has mixed feelings because she knows that zombies creep me out. She had doubts about taking on someone with such an epic character flaw. Luckily, she's also kind of easy. I bribed her with sweets and she caved like a souffle. (TOTALLY NOT TRUE! It was the promise of critiquing my current MS that made me look past this abhorrent flaw.)

4) Let’s say things go poorly in the Zombie Apocalypse and Angela tragically becomes one of the living undead. Would you dispatch her or allow her to go on her merry, brain-eating way?

BECCA: I would dispatch Angela immediately with all of my (considerable) Resident Evil experience. Zombies are not merry. They're skeevy and gross. Ick. (Erm...thanks, I guess?)

So help me welcome Becca back to The Bookshelf Muse! I've learned a lot from her over the years and look forward to her contributions and insight. :) And if you'd like to get to know Becca and her ties to TBM a bit more, she's happy to do a few blogging guest posts to get back into the swing of things. Just drop her a line!

Happy week, all! Good luck to the Nanoers!

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